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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EPA Flare Standards, Aviation Carbon Trade Dispute, EU Emissions to 2050

The EPA has issued updated standards for new flares and process heaters at petroleum refineries. The final rule will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and VOCs; CO2 emissions, though not directly addressed in the rule, are expected to drop by as much as 2 million tons per year. Overall, the rule is expected to save the refining industry about $80 million annually, the agency said.

The WTO said that nations in dispute over the inclusion of airlines in the EU ETS would have a difficult time bringing a trade dispute case to the global body. The European Court of Justice ruled in favor of the EU law last year, Reuters said.

European environment ministers are expected to reopen a debate at a June 11 environment council on emissions policy beyond 2020, its current roadmap which includes a 20 percent cut in emissions. The draft text in circulation currently stops short of setting any defined targets for 2050, a move that proponents say would support the EU carbon market, Reuters said.

A World Bank official said that plans for emissions trading in 14 emerging nations lend evidence that emissions trading may “take off.” The organization said that carbon trading rose 11 percent to $176 billion last year, Bloomberg reports.

A UN study on environmental job growth foresees growth of 15 million to 60 million jobs in the next 20 years related to the global pursuit of environmental and sustainable policies worldwide. Though some jobs would be lost in a transition, a net gains of 0.5 percent to 2 percent in total global employment are possible with increased renewable and efficient energy use, the Associated Press reports.

Two Republican legislators have requested communication records from the Department of the Interior to review whether certain energy companies have received preferential treatment on renewable or alternative energy projects that received taxpayer loan guarantees. The request involves Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, First Solar, Nevada Geothermal Power, NextEra Energy Resources and SolarReserve and a number of agency officials, The Hill said.

The EPA has released a draft IRIS health assessment for ammonia, available for public comment for 60 days and under independent expert peer review. The draft assessment includes an estimate of the amount of ammonia a person can inhale daily throughout a lifetime without harmful health effects, which is less stringent than the current value for ammonia on IRIS.

The House rejected a series of amendments to a 2013 Energy and Water spending bill that would have cut $1.5 billion from the bill with savings moved to deficit reduction. The vote cut out an amendment from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that would have reduced the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account by $74 million as well as one to eliminate the EERE account altogether, The Hill said.

The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water and Power will conduct an oversight field hearing today in Phoenix, Ariz., on “Evaporating Prosperity: How Federal Actions Are Driving Up Water and Power Costs, Threatening Jobs and Leaving Arizonans High and Dry.” The hearing reviews federal actions and regulations involving water supplies and electricity rates in Arizona.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power has a hearing Wednesday, June 6, discussing “EPA Priorities and Practices.” The primary witness for the hearing is former EPA Region 6 administrator Al Armendariz.

The California Senate narrowly voted down a bill, 17-18, that would have required oil companies to give 30 days notice to land owners whose property line or residence is within 300 feet of a fracking operation. The companies would also have been required to notify local governments and water boards for posting on agency websites; California currently does not require disclosure of fracking chemicals or procedures, the Los Angeles Times said.

The New Hampshire attorney general has fined Concord Hospital $205,000 for the improper disposal of pharmaceutical wastes. The state’s Department of Environmental Services discovered in inspections that the hospital sent waste to facilities that were not authorized to accept it, Waste & Recycling News reports.

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