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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Fracking Controls, China Aviation Plan, CVS Settlement

The Obama administration has set national standards to control air pollution from gas wells drilled using hydraulic fracturing, but with a delayed implementation to appease the oil and gas industry. The rule will require companies to install pollution-reducing equipment at the wellhead by 2015, and in the interim reduce pollution with flaring, the Washington Post said.

Industry trade groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, had argued that there wasn’t enough supply of truck-mounted emission-cutting equipment for the 25,000 new and existing natural gas wells. The EPA also decided to extend the deadline for other pollution-cutting mandates in its rule, including requirements governing storage tanks and other natural gas infrastructure, Fuel Fix said.

Overall, reaction from businesses and groups was mixed, with API saying the delay was an improvement. The Western Energy Alliance, however, said the EPA was illegally using the Clean Air Act to deal with global warming. Environmental advocacy groups said the new rule was a step forward for clean air, but objected to the delayed timeline, the New York Times said.

TransCanada has proposed a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline project with state environmental officials in Nebraska. The new route avoids the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region, and comes as the House passed a transportation bill mandating Keystone approval, The Hill said. The White House said it will veto the bill, The Hill added.

The EU is reviewing a Chinese plan for aviation carbon emissions, but did not have enough information to say whether it is a conforming “equivalent measure” under EU carbon law, which would exempt the country’s airlines from the need to comply with EU laws on carbon reduction. China plans to use revenue from a passenger tax on international flights to cut carbon emissions in the aviation sector, Reuters said.

CVS Pharmacy has reached a $13.75 million settlement with 44 California district attorneys and the city attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles. CVS must pay the fine to resolve alleged violations of California laws for the safe storage, handling and disposal of sharps waste, pharmaceutical and pharmacy waste, photo waste containing silver, and hazardous waste generated from spills and customer returns of hazardous products, Sonoma Patch said.

The EPA has issued an enforcement order to AVX Corp. to implement ongoing cleanup work at Upper and Lower New Bedford Harbor, including dredging PCB-contaminated sediment from the Harbor and disposing the sediment to a appropriately licensed facilities. The EPA said it will continue to perform the remediation with available Superfund funds until responsibility for the site cleanup passes to AVX.

The EU may propose a delay in supply at carbon auctions starting next year. EU nations were almost unanimous at a meeting that the commission should propose measures to address the supply issue in the short term, too, Business Week said.

The re-nomination of Republican Kristine Svinicki to a second term at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may become a political issue, Republicans are signaling. Svinicki has been critical of the leadership of NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who is a presidential appointee, The Hill said.

A coalition of U.S. farmers and food companies is taking legal action to force a government review of proposed biotech crops and weed-killing chemicals. Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Co. are among several global chemical and seed companies rolling out combinations of genetically altered crops and new herbicides. But critics say key ingredients in these new herbicides – 2,4-D for Dow and dicamba for Monsanto – have proved damaging to “non-target” fields, Reuters said.

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