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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Offshore Wind, Clean Energy Standard, 10 Coal-Fired Plants to Retire

A planned six-year $180 million Department of Energy initiative is targeting the potential of offshore wind energy. Four offshore wind energy installations will have access to $20 million this year, subject to congressional appropriations, the DOE announced. Letters of intent are due on March 30 and applications are due on May 31, 2012.

The EPA said that it will not complete initial GHG standards for oil refineries this year. The agency, as part of a 2010 settlement with states and environmentalists, had initially hoped to complete the rules by November 2012, but missed a planned December 2011 rollout of draft rules. Separate GHG rules for new and modified power plants under White House review are still expected in draft form early in 2012, The Hill said.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), has introduced a bill to reduce power plant pollution by mandating greater use of low-carbon energy sources. The legislation, known as the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, requires that large power companies supply increasing amounts of electricity from low-carbon sources beginning in 2015, to reach 84 percent of power share by 2035, The Hill said.

Midwest Generation said it will retire its Fisk Generating Station in 2012 and Crawford Generating Station in 2014. GenOn Energy will deactivate 3,140 MW of generation capacity from eight power plants, seven fired by coal and one by natural gas, between June 2012 and May 2015. Both companies said the EPA MATS and the required retrofits make the plants uncompetitive in the market, the Washington Post writes.

Federal agencies will be banned from disposing of e-waste in landfills and must use certified recyclers and refurbishing companies under a bulletin issued by the General Services Administration, Federal News Radio reports. The regulations, which the GSA says will be codified soon, are the first policies to arise from the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, released in July.

Speaking at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire, President Obama repeated his call on Congress to repeal federal subsidies for the oil industry. About one-quarter of Americans do not know who to hold most responsible for the spike in gasoline prices, which have increased by 47 cents per gallon over the past two months, and may increase another 50 cents per gallon this spring, the Washington Post writes.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill trial is set to begin Monday after a week’s delay to give more time for settlement talks between BP and lawyers representing business owners and individuals affected by the 87-day oil spill. However, the negotiations have broken down, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Shell asked a federal court to review its Alaska Arctic oil spill response plan, approved two weeks ago by the DOI, for compliance with legal requirements, a move it hopes will hold off challenges from environmental groups. Shell seeks a declaratory judgment against 13 environmental groups including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, the New York Times said.

Natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp said the Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal violations under the Clean Water Act (CWA) at three well sites in West Virginia. The company faces civil penalties as high as $37,500 per day, per violation, and possible criminal penalties range from $2,500 to $25,000 per day, and anticipates sanctions exceeding $100,000, Reuters said.

Britain has so far allocated 4.9 million of the 56.7 million EU carbon permits it expects to issue this year to three of more than 230 airlines that the UK regulates. Airlines using EU airports this year will receive around 183 million permits free, but must first open registry accounts, Reuters said.

Sanders Wood Products in Liberal, Ore., has reached an agreement with the EPA related to a series of PCB leaks at its lumber mill. The company will pay over $108,000 in penalties. As part of the settlement, the company confirmed that leaking transformers at the facility found in 2009 were removed and certified its current compliance with the Toxic Substances Control Act at each of its facilities, the EPA said.

Western Digital’s wafer fabrication facility, in Fremont, Calif., will pay a $62,500 fine related to alleged violations of federal standards governing the handling and storage of hazardous waste including solvents, acids and sulfates, the EPA said.

Shanghai will spend 10.3 billion yuan (US$1.63 billion) on 53 projects targeting air pollution, especially for PM2.5 control, in the next three years. It plans to begin publicly reporting the data from its PM2.5 measuring gauge in June, writes the Shanghai Daily.

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