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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Yellowstone Clean-Up Plan, Horizontal Drilling, Sewer Debt

The Environmental Protection Agency has given Exxon Mobil until July 17 to revise its Yellowstone River remediation work plan to change how the company will capture spilled oil, remove broken pipe without polluting the river downstream, and restore wildlife habitat and private property, Reuters said. The plan will be made public once it is completely approved by the EPA and the state of Montana.

The House natural resources and agricultural subcommittees on Friday heard experts explain why a proposed horizontal drilling ban in the George Washington National Forest and possible hydraulic fracturing regulation related to Marcellus Shale gas on federal lands would be counterproductive. Subcommittee chairs said the actions would erode the nation’s efforts to generate domestic energy security and undermine the multiple-use provision of forest lands. A state expert said that gas production in Virginia has been good for the economy and that no groundwater or surface water degradation has been documented.

Today and tomorrow the House energy and commerce committee will mark up bills to mandate an interagency analysis of the economic effects of several EPA rules, and to block the EPA from regulating coal combustion wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Hill reports.

On Tuesday the House appropriations committee plans to mark up a spending bill for the EPA and the Department of the Interior for fiscal year 2012, the Hill says. The measure under consideration would make deep cuts to conservation funding and would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants for one year. Other measures under consideration on Tuesday include bills to promote solar and geothermal power, the subject of a hearing in the Senate energy and natural resources committee; and a review of the EPA’s efforts on the Safe Drinking Water Act, to be considered by the senate environment and public works committee.

Alabama governor Robert Bentley expects Jefferson County to present a plan this week to its creditors, including JP Morgan Chase and Co. and Bank of America, to avoid bankruptcy related to the county’s $3.2 billion sewer debt, according to Bloomberg News. The final plan must be approved by the county’s five-member commission.

The Associated Press reports that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad sent letters to Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska governors to ask them to pull out of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes over the Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the river. Branstad noted that the Corps favors upstream states; he suggested that the four states create a downstream association.

Current UK environmental policy may be moving that country’s packaging companies overseas, according to an article in Food Production Daily. The CEO of the Packaging and Film Association, who made these comments during the launch of a minimal resource packaging initiative, said carbon tax hikes were problematic.

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