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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Indian Point, EPA Overruled on Coal, UK Delays GHG Reporting Law

Entergy, the owner of Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan, N.Y., has agreed with the New York State DEC to pay a $1.2 million penalty for a transformer explosion at its Unit 2 reactor that spilled oil into the Hudson River in November 2010. The penalty comes as the state agency and Entergy negotiate whether the two Indian Point reactors should continue to operate beyond 2014 and 2016, when their initial 40-year operating licenses are scheduled to expire, the New York Times said.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the EPA’s January 2011 decision to rescind a waste disposal permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, W.Va., exceeded the agency’s authority and violated federal law. The EPA has rescinded a permit only twice in 40 years. The judge declared that the permit is now valid for the 2,278-acre surface mining project, the New York Times said.

The U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it has not made a decision on whether to introduce mandatory reporting for greenhouse gas emissions, and it will miss a deadline required by the 2008 Climate Change Act. According to documents collected from Defra under freedom of information requests, 61 percent of organizations told the department that they were in favor of full mandatory carbon reporting for all large companies, The Guardian reports.

An EPA plan to require upgrades at three Montana industrial plants would cost $90 million – too steep, site operator PPL Montana says, for the visibility improvements. Environmental groups sued the EPA for enforcement of the 1999 regional haze rule, and the plan is expected to remove 15,000 tons a year of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Public hearings are scheduled for May 15 and 16, Fuel Fix said.

In Victoria, Australia, a review of the state’s target of a 20 percent GHG emissions reduction over ten years has found “no compelling case” to keep the target. The report comes as the commonwealth sets a minimum target to cut emissions by 5 percent through a carbon tax, and the state feels disadvantaged by the larger target. The state target is likely to be dropped, writes The Age.

A Gallup survey finds that President Obama’s approval ratings on energy policy, with 42 percent of U.S. adults approving, are much worse than the marks he receives on environmental protection, where 56 percent of respondents approve of his actions. The marks on energy, however, are better than those achieved by President George W. Bush, The Hill reports.

The Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce today holds its eighteenth day of the hearing “The American Energy Initiative.” The hearing will focus on legislative responses to rising gasoline prices including drafts of The Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012 and The Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012.

The House Committee on Natural Resources meets today to consider subpoenas for the Interior Department related to the process used in the preparation of a department report on offshore oil and natural gas operations under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The report led to an offshore drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. The committee is also considering subpoenas related to a rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule under the Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a letter addressed to heads of delegations attending the UN Rio+20 conference, urging government to commit to concrete action. The letter calls for an explicit requirement that companies adopt standardized, rules-based sustainability reporting, and also calls for rewards and sanctions for businesses’ sustainable programs.

British businesses are showing support for the UK’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which reduces 1,000 pages of planning policy to about 50, saying the finalized plan will encourage economic growth, The Telegraph said.  But, some groups voiced concerns about the ability of governments and groups at the local level to respond to short-term demand for land and still protect longer-term sustainability, The Guardian said.

A proposal in the New York Assembly would ban hardcover books from disposal in solid waste landfills or by incineration. The bill would also require municipalities to establish a program to recover, redistribute, reuse or recycle hardcover books within two years, Waste & Recycling News said.

Three oil production companies operating on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana will address groundwater contamination threatening the City of Poplar’s public water supply system. The agreement with Murphy Exploration & Production, Pioneer Natural Resources, and SGH Enterprises requires the companies to pay $320,000 to the city and continue monitoring the public water supply monthly, the EPA said.

CSG Holdings of Columbia, N.H., may be fined up to $532,500 for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to polluted stormwater and process water from its Columbia facility entering nearby waters. Stormwater monitoring by CSG Holdings confirmed that stormwater discharges from its sand and gravel mining and aggregate processing operations contain total suspended solids at levels that exceed permit benchmarks for its industrial sector, the EPA said.

Foster Poultry Farms must stop discharging pollutants into Louisiana waters, according to an EPA order that followed an inspection at the Athens, La., hatchery. The inspection found unauthorized discharges of pollutants from a process wastewater lagoon to an unnamed tributary of Leatherman Creek, the EPA said.

Crespo Realty of Flushing, N.Y., has received a citation for allegedly violating the Disclosure Rule under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act at four Reading, Pa., properties. EPA will propose a penalty for the alleged violations after the company has had an opportunity to respond to the complaint, the EPA said.

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