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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Imperial Sugar, Wetlands Fill, Gas Storage

Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division says Imperial Sugar will pay $80,000 to settle charges that the company violated state clean water standards, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported. The company self-reported the incidents of sugar wastewater discharged to the Savannah River, which occurred two years following a refinery explosion that killed 14 people.

As the EU shifts its attention to helping developing countries lower their carbon dioxide emissions, China recently announced a plan to set absolute caps on iron, steel and cement production, Reuters Point Carbon said. Analysts say the move lacks detail and probably would not persuade the EU to stop its plan to ban carbon offset credits from new Chinese projects after 2012.

Netherlands’ top court has suspended the Bergermeer gas storage project, described as the largest such project in Europe, ending a final ruling on its potential to cause earth tremors, Reuters said. The project is central to the country’s plan to become a European natural gas hub.

Utility Pacific Gas & Electric is facing serious allegations in California. State regulators say they are investigating claims that PG&E ignored warnings over serious gas leaks, bilked its customers out of nearly $2 million in unwarranted costs, and flew its CEO alone on a 25-seat private jet at a cost of $60,000, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The next protracted partisan fight on Capitol Hill could be over the federal gas tax, the Hill reports. “The Senate and House are in the process of considering a long-term highway bill,” the website reports. “Passing a short-term extension while they work out the details of a longer measure would normally be considered routine, but so was a short-term extension of FAA funding.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said yesterday that it has completed another step in the permitting process for Southern Company’s proposed Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors near Augusta, Ga. Commission staff finished a safety evaluation and also completed work on the company’s application for a license to build and run the nuclear plants. Commissioners must still hold a hearing and vote to confirm the approvals, and that action is expected by year’s end, the New York Times reported.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.) asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to develop a broad definition of diesel fuel to ensure that permitted fracking operations don’t inadvertently contaminate groundwater sources with benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, the Hill said.

To protect private citizens whose property has been impacted by hydrofracking, New York State comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli proposed the state require drilling operators to post surety bonds for drilling, The New York Times said. The money from those bonds would be used for any subsequent contamination on private or public property.

Sioux Falls-based Candle Development, LLC has agreed to pay $100,000 and perform restoration and mitigation projects to address unauthorized filling of wetlands during development near Nine Mile Creek in Sioux Falls, the EPA said. The agency said this is the third time it has alleged that a company run by Candle’s principle, James P. Daniels, has committed Clean Water Act violations.

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection is seeking comment on whether it should lower the noise limit for wind turbines at night from 45 to 42 decibels, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported. Critics of the proposal say the standard should be lowered to at least 40 decibels.

White House adviser Ron Bloom, who helped draw up new vehicle mileage standards, will be leaving the Obama administration at the end of August, the Hill reports.

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