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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: $3m for Hazmat Spill, Offshore Wind, Carrier and Trane Warning on HCFC-22

Klaus Genssler, chief operating officer of U.S. Oil Recovery L.P., has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a Harris County, Texas, lawsuit. The county claimed the company spilled hazardous materials into the area’s bayou system, an Associated Press article says. The COO also was permanently barred from being involved in any related businesses in the state of Texas.

Five companies, including Carrier, Trane and Johnson Controls, wrote a letter (pdf) to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson this week, saying that a loophole in a 2009 rule could be hindering the agency’s attempts to phase out ozone-depleting refrigerants in air conditioners. Despite the regulations, units that need the substance HCFC-22 still make up 10 to 20 percent of all sales, the New York Times reported.

The Interior Department on Aug. 17 invited developers to identify locations for which they are seeking commercial leases for wind projects offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The agency also is seeking public comment on environmental issues and reasonable alternatives to proposed leasing, site characterization and assessment activities in the area.

The EPA has added Peter Martin Kuhn, former president and Chief Executive Officer of French Gulch Nevada Mining Corporation and Bullion River Gold Corporation, to its fugitive list after he failed to surrender to authorities. A grand jury indicted Kuhn in July for his alleged role in improperly disposing of mining wastes.

Nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are gathering information and comments for a 2012 review of the cap-and-trade reduction program, North American Windpower said. The review will evaluate successes, impacts, operations, additional reductions, imports and emissions leakage and offsets and may provide data for potential program changes.

Numerous fish and shellfish were killed after a mixture of pulp and chemicals from the Temple-Inland plant’s paper manufacturing process in Bogalusa, La., discharged into the Pearl River. The company took responsibility and has hired a private company to coordinate cleanup, the Times Picayune said.

The EPA is proposing to approve Louisiana’s request to redesignate the Baton Rouge area to attainment of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard. Preliminary 2011 air quality data show that the area meets both the 8-hour standard and the 1-hour standard for ozone.

The Department of Energy has launched a partnership with Brazil, aimed at developing the country’s energy resources, and improving cooperation of offshore drilling, renewables and nuclear power, the Hill reports. “The Strategic Energy Dialogue builds on the long history of energy cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil to advance our shared energy goals,” deputy secretary Daniel Poneman said in a statement. “Working together, we can help grow our economies, enhance regional and global energy security, and build a clean energy future for both of our nations.”

On December 14, the Interior Department will hold the first sale of Gulf of Mexico oil and natural leases since the BP spill last year, the Hill reports. “This sale is an important step toward a secure energy future that includes safe, environmentally sound development of our domestic energy resources,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.

The Japanese government has unveiled proposals to require automakers to raise average fleet efficiency to 20.3km/litre (48 mpg) in 2020, a 24 percent improvement compared to the 16.3km/litre achieved in 2009, Business Green reports.

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