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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Rio+20, Japan Nuclear, Refrigerants Settlement

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading the US delegation for the Rio+20 summit, and President Obama will not be in attendance. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other senior U.S. officials are also attending, according to The Hill.

Japan has ordered the reactivation of two nuclear reactors at a plant in the west of the country on Saturday, ending a freeze of the nuclear power industry in effect since last year’s Fukushima crisis. The decision comes despite the Japanese people remaining deeply divided on the safety of nuclear power, the New York Times said.

Japan has also approved the introduction of feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, a move expected to expand revenue from renewable generation and related equipment to more than $30 billion by 2016. The scheme, effective July 1, requires Japanese utilities to buy electricity from renewable sources for up to 20 years, Reuters said.

The New Jersey Assembly Environment Committee approved a bill to ban the treatment or disposal of waste from fracking. The bill goes to the full assembly for a vote as a partner bill is introduced in the state senate. The state currently has a one-year moratorium on fracking, writes The Record.

American Seafoods and Pacific Longline have reached a settlement with the EPA, agreeing to spend an estimated $9 million to $15 million to convert refrigeration systems on several vessels to operate using non-ozone depleting refrigerants, and pay a $700,000 penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations, the agency said.

Former and current owners and operators of Avionics Specialties in Earlysville, Va., have agreed to investigate discharges of hazardous chemicals into the soil and groundwater at its manufacturing plant, and to evaluate alternatives for cleanup of the releases through two consent orders with the EPA. The agency alleges that the discharge of volatile organic compounds, including tetrachloroethylene (TCE), occurred during TDY’s ownership.

The Town of Culpeper, Va. will pay a $27,420 penalty and make more than $100,000 in upgrades at its water treatment facility to settle alleged environmental violations at the town’s water treatment facilities, the EPA said. According to a consent agreement the town did not immediately notify the EPA’s National Response Center as required following a 2008 incident when about 106 pounds of chlorine were released into the atmosphere.

The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will conduct a hearing Tuesday titled “Review of Recent Environmental Protection Agency Air Standards for Hydraulically Fractured Natural Gas Wells and Oil and Natural Gas Storage.” Witnesses include representatives from the EPA, the Environmental Defense Fund and Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing Tuesday on the “The Federal Green Jobs Agenda.” Witnesses include representatives from the American Enterprise Institute, the Congressional Research Service and the Truman National Security Project.

Also on Tuesday the House Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Power will conduct the twentieth day of the subcommittee’s hearing on “The American Energy Initiative.” The meeting will focus on the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations.

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