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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: $4.5m Chevron Settlement, Supercommittee, Opening the Everglades

Chevron has reached a $4.5 million settlement with Salt Lake City and the state of Utah to pay for cleanup costs at two oil spills that polluted a creek and city pond, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.  The company took “full responsibility” for the spills and will pay $3 million for mitigation projects, $1 million for environmental and social impacts and a $500,000 civil penalty to the state.

Shell Chemical will pay $500,000 to Harris County, Texas, to settle complaints that the company failed to notify county pollution officials of five petrochemical emissions releases at its Deer Park plant, the county announced Tuesday.  The settlement forestalls a threatened lawsuit and includes an agreement from Shell to provide the county with actual notice of future air pollution.

Japan will not abandon its target of cutting carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 despite the dramatic rise in energy prices following the radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the country’s new environment minister said. However, Japan will not sign up for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, the minister said.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, urged the members of the debt “supercommittee” in Congress tasked with drastically trimming the nation’s deficit to raise revenue by opening more public land to oil and gas drilling, The Hill reported.  He said opening the Atlantic and Pacific Coast, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas could bring in $64 billion in royalties and lease bids by 2020.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said on Tuesday that he would support opening the Everglades to oil drilling, The Associated Press reported.  The governor said he would favor a “cautious” approach, noting that there already is a small amount of drilling activity in the famed parkland.

Two bills passed the California Assembly this week that will streamline the permitting process for renewable energy projects, The Desert Sun reported.  One bill allows developers to pay the state Department of Fish and Game to buy land for them to reduce their projects’ environmental impact, while the other imposes a 60-day deadline on the department to process permit reviews when a project may threaten an endangered species.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will likely require Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear plant in Plymouth, Mass., to undergo a year-long review of safety procedures, The Boston Globe reported.  The commission released a report detailing numerous safety failures in the control room that led to an emergency shutdown of the plant last spring.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed an order finding that the San Joaquin Valley, and California’s South Coast and the Southeast Desert have failed to meet the .12 ppm one-hour ozone standard by their required deadlines.  The EPA has opened a 30-day comment period before making its findings final.

A diplomatic cable among a trove of documents released by the anti-secrecy organization Wikileaks suggests that India’s lax attitude towards the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism largely contributed to the skeptical view of the international offset market among U.S. policymakers, Point Carbon reported.

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