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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Shell Blocks Activists; BP Funds, Iran, Great Lakes Wind

Shell has won an injunction, issued by a federal district court in Alaska, expanding the scope of an earlier restraining order that blocked Greenpeace activists from interfering with operations on two Arctic drillships through March. The new order, which runs through the end of October, applies to Greenpeace activists targeting those drillships as well as support vessels, Fuel Fix said.

Congress has passed a stopgap three-month transportation bill that does not include a provision to send 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to Gulf states. A Senate version of the bill included language to set aside fine money for Gulf states. But that provision was stripped in the rush to get the measure passed before the House went into recess, The Hill said.

President Obama said that the global oil supply is deep enough to handle potential sanctions against countries that keep buying oil from Iran, including allies of the U.S. The sanctions would also allow the U.S. to penalize foreign financial institutions that do oil business with Iran by barring them from having a U.S.-based affiliate or doing business here, the Washington Post said.

The Obama administration and the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania have signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of offshore wind resources in the Great Lakes.  The MOU sets priorities and speeds the review of proposed offshore wind projects by federal and state agencies, the DOE said.

The U.K.’s Environment Agency expects that exploration of shale-gas resources by companies including Cuadrilla Resources will resume after a soon-to-be-released investigative report into hydraulic fracturing from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Other companies with licenses in areas possibly holding shale-gas resources include IGas Energy, Dart Energy, BG Group, Celtique Energie, and Reach Coal Seam Gas, Business Week said.

Two official studies in Japan have found that tsunami waves as high as 34 meters (112 feet) – almost twice the previous estimate – could hit the country, and that a 7.3 quake near Tokyo could cause more damage than the area is prepared for. The reports come as Japan debates whether to restart its 54 nuclear reactors, all but one of which have been shut down since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Reuters said.

Nebraska state lawmakers voted to resume its $2 million environmental study of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. The bill would require a review by the Department of Environmental Quality and final approval from the governor before a company could use eminent domain to claim land for the project, Business Week said.

EU ambassadors failed to resolve a dispute over the allocation of seats on the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF) board, which has 12 seats for developing countries, 12 for developed countries and 24 rotating seats. Germany and Poland are both insisting on a full seat, Reuters said.

The U.S. Senate confirmed David Danielson to be assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy for the Department of Energy. Danielson has been a program director at DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency since 2009 and before that worked at General Catalyst Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm, The Hill said.

The Senate also confirmed Charles McConnell to be the DOE assistant secretary for fossil energy. McConnell has been chief operating officer of the fossil energy office that oversees the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, coal-fired power plant emissions, and other areas, The Hill said.

The City of Wapato, Washington, will pay a fine of $57,000 for excess pollution discharges from its municipal sewage treatment facility on Yakama tribal land, in violation of its Clean Water Act permit, according to an agreement with the EPA. The treatment facility exceeded levels of ammonia in its pollutant discharge elimination permit more than 431 times between 2006 and 2010, and also discharged without a permit, the EPA said.

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