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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: CSAPR Signed & Adjusted, New Nukes, Keystone XL, Fracking Tax

The EPA has made a few adjustments to its cross-state air pollution rules (CSAPR), which were signed Tuesday. The adjustments increase budgets in 17 states and ease limits on market-based compliance options. These state-level adjustments vary, and the total budget increases by about 2 percent, Clean Air Watch said. CSAPR is still under a stay, granted by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in late 2011, with a hearing expected in April, writes Power Engineering.

The NRC approved construction of the first new nuclear reactors to be built since 1978. The new reactors will be added to the Vogtle plant outside of Waynesboro, Ga., and operated by Southern Co. The reactors will use light water technology developed by Westinghouse. The DOE is expected to provide $8.3 billion in conditional loan guarantees for the construction, writes the Los Angeles Times.

The State Department Inspector General has found no evidence that TransCanada Corp had exerted improper influence on the Keystone XL project. Lawmakers had asked the inspector to review the relationship with a contractor that performed the environmental review of the project, Reuters said.

The Pennsylvania House and Senate passed a bill to impose a fee on natural-gas drilling in the state and toughen regulations over the so-far untaxed industry. Local governments would decide whether to impose the fee on their local wells; however, critics said that the bill has some limits on the ability of municipalities to control drilling activity, Bloomberg reports.

The EPA has approved a California proposal to ban all sewage discharges, including treated sewage, from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to state marine waters along its 1,624 mile coast and surrounding major islands. Under the Clean Water Act, states may request EPA to establish vessel sewage no-discharge zones if necessary to protect and restore water quality. The EPA estimates that the rule will prohibit the discharge of more than 22 million of the 25 million gallons of treated vessel sewage that enter California marine waters each year.

BP has won a court order to keep references to earlier accidents in Texas and Alaska out of this month’s trial to assess blame for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Thursday’s ruling followed a court decision Wednesday to keep out some emails questioning some of BP’s activities before and after the spill, Reuters said.

Georgia lawmakers have introduced legislation to boost renewable energy sources across the state. The bill is designed to encourage private investment in renewable energy sources, and aims to allow customers and firms to use common financing mechanisms to fund new power generation facilities, writes the Athens Banner-Herald.

The San Francisco board of supervisors gave preliminary approval to expand the city’s plastic bag ban to all retail stores and restaurants and impose a 10-cent charge on all other bags handed out at checkout. The new rules would go into effect Oct. 1 for retail businesses and next year for restaurants, if a final approval follows next week, writes the San Francisco Chronicle.

China’s state media said that Beijing has air pollution reduction targets of 15 percent by 2015 and 30 percent by 2020. The city will block expansion of heavy-polluting and energy-consuming companies, limit coal consumption to 62 percent of 2015 levels, plant 133,000 hectares of new forests, and take 1.6 million older vehicles off the roads by 2020, Reuters reports.

The National Park Service has approved a ban on the sale of bottled water at the Grand Canyon, after nearly $290,000 was spent to install 10 water refill stations inside the park. Park concessionaires can still sell other bottled beverages. Disposable bottles account for 20 percent of the park’s waste and 30 percent of its recyclables, Reuters reports.

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) has asked the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) to review the company’s plans to install environmental controls on the 528 MW coal-fired Flint Creek Power Plant. The controls, estimated to cost $408 million, are necessary to comply with immediate and longer term EPA regulations. Pending the APSC’s decision and approval of environmental permits, construction would begin in January 2014 with completion by June 2016, writes Power Engineering.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today announced a new National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pilot project to increase the efficiency of federal environmental reviews and reduce costs. The CEQ has selected a U.S. Forest Service proposal to develop best practices, for forest restoration projects conducted in Arizona and Oregon, that can be applied to future land restoration projects, CEQ said.

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