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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Calif. Chemicals, Refinery Agreement, Loan Program Revived

The California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) will imminently release its formal draft of the Safer Consumer Products regulations, part of the state’s green chemistry program, attorneys at law firm Alston & Bird predicted. By fall 2012, thousands of chemicals will come under regulation and products face bans for non-compliance to the new standards, said partner and former DTSC director Maureen Gorsen.

Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum and the EPA have made what the agency called the first agreement of its kind for the refining industry. Under the agreement to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Marathon will install state-of-the-art flares on combustion devices and put a cap on the volume of waste gas it sends to its flares, to reduce emissions at six refineries in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. The cost of these measures is undetermined so far, but Marathon also will pay a civil penalty of $460,000, the EPA said.

The DOE said that the companies that missed deadlines for the expired federal loan guarantee program packaged with 2009 stimulus legislation can reapply under a loan guarantee program from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which is still in force. DOE also has funds to cover all or part of the upfront fees applicants to the 2005 program must pay, the New York Times said.

The SEC has denied Exxon Mobil’s request to omit information about hydraulic fracturing risks from its proxy statement, positioning the proposal for a vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May. Only 28 percent of shareholders voted to approve a similar resolution last year, Fuel Fix said.

Green groups including the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Environmental Integrity Project have sued the EPA to force an update of the national coal ash disposal regulations affecting power plants, The Hill said.

France’s highest court may annul a guilty verdict against Total over a 1999 oil spill off the Brittany coast on the grounds that the Italian-owned tanker did not sink in French waters, and it was flying a Maltese flag. Total has paid nearly €400 million in clean-up costs, and a €375,000 fine, Reuters said.

China has established a rare earth industry association reporting to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which regulates rare earth production. The 155-member association will facilitate international exchanges and help Chinese companies that may face trade disputes, Reuters said.

President Obama and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff meet today to discuss energy policy. The countries’ joint energy work is focused on biofuels, oil and gas, renewable electricity, efficiency and nuclear energy. The U.S. and Brazil are the top two ethanol producers in the world, The Hill said.

Environmental groups in Chile have lost their supreme court challenge to a $7 billion hydroelectric dam project in Patagonia. Italian company Endesa and Chilean firm Colbun propose building five dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers, the Albany Times-Union said.

Polidori Corporation, Poli-Gold, and Veronica Polidori have reached an agreement with the EPA in response to alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at Panguitch Lake in Garfield County, Utah, during the construction of a marina and RV park. Polidori has been fined $30,000 and will remove or mitigate discharged material, the EPA said.

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