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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: FERC Regulations, Wastewater Rules, Fines for ConocoPhillips and Sherwin-Williams

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced that it has published three final rules on Thursday, dramatically shaking up the payment method for transmission, particularly in the Midwest. The first rule, relating to transmission planning and cost allocation, requires organized markets to include in their tariffs a new two-part market-based compensation method for regulation service. The second rule changes the way the 13-state Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc. will pay for new large transmission lines. The third rule will force regional organized markets to submit electronic data.

The American Wind Energy Association responded to FERC’s rule changes on Friday, applauding the changes to the payment regime for new transmission capacity in the wind-rich Midwest. But at the same, the association panned the tariffs rule, saying that it would allow utilities to discriminate against wind because of its perceived inefficiency instead of modernizing grids to store more backup energy.

The EPA said on Thursday that it plans to impose new rules on the booming shale gas industry’s wastewater disposal processes, Reuters reported. The rules for shale are slated for 2014, while coal-bed methane wastewater regulations could come in 2013. Reports have found that chemical-laced wastewater from hydraulic fracturing can contaminate water from public treatment systems.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is immediately adopting seven recommendations from the task force established to study plant safety after the radiation crisis at the Fukushima plant in Japan, Reuters reported. The seven recommendations, including station blackout guidelines, reviews of seismic and flooding hazards, emergency equipment and plant staff training, were among 12 presented by the task force in a July 12 report.

China’s nuclear targets will likely be reduced as the country considers its long term strategy after imposing a moratorium on new projects, Reuters reported. Following the Fukushima meltdown, China pledged to reevaluate a plan to sharply increase its current capacity of 10.9 GW.

ConocoPhillips and Valero Refining-Texas LP have been fined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for alleged emissions violations that lasted three months in 2008, The Associated Press reported. The commission penalized Valero $591,798 and ConocoPhillips $141,925.

The EPA announced that paint-maker Sherwin-Williams Co. has settled alleged hazardous waste violations in Baltimore for $570,000, The Associated Press reported. The EPA said a fine was levied following a 2009 inspection.

The European Commission published proposed rules on Thursday to regulate spot carbon permits and other financial instruments susceptible to fraud, Reuters reported. The commission said fraud is growing problem in carbon markets.

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