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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Fines for Dairyland and BASF; SF6; Calif.-Quebec Carbon Program

The EPA and the DOJ have reached a Clean Air Act settlement with Dairyland Power Cooperative under which the utility will invest $150 million in pollution control technology at three power plants in Alma and Genoa, Wis. The settlement also requires that DPC spend $5 million on environmental mitigation projects and pay a civil penalty of $950,000. These actions are expected to reduce about 29,000 ton of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants, the EPA said.

World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Climate Action Network and other NGOs have called sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) the “most potent greenhouse gas known to humankind” and are calling for the European Commission to ban some of its uses. The group says that SF6, which is commonly used in power line switchgears, is 22,800 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and that substitutes can be used without a significant cost burden, Euractiv said.

The UK committee on climate change said that less than one percent of the nation’s seven percent reduction in GHG emissions in 2001 was related to proactive low carbon measures, and that mild weather, high fuel prices and tight budgeting contributed to the emissions decrease. In order to meet targets, the country must cut emissions four times faster than the current rate, Platts reports.

The British Columbia auditor-general will conduct a review of the provincial government’s carbon offsets system in order to verify whether the public sector is carbon neutral. Carbon offsets in British Columbia are only credible if a GHG reduction project would not have gone ahead without funding from the province, the Vancouver Sun said.

North Carolina’s governor Beverly Perdue for the second time in two years vetoed legislation that would end the state’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, saying that the measure approved in June did not offer adequate environmental protections. The vetoed bill now returns to lawmakers who can override the governor with a three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate, Reuters said.

The California and Quebec cap-and-trade carbon programs may have their first common auction in early 2013 after CARB delayed the vote on linkage rules last week, Quebec’s sustainable development minister Pierre Arcand said. The CARB delay is related to a new law that requires the governor’s approval stamp on such an agreement, writes the Montreal Gazette.

Vermont’s law to implement mandatory recycling and composting of food and organic waste by 2020 went into effect yesterday; during the phase-in period, waste haulers must collect yard waste as well as food waste, and recycling containers must equal the number of waste bins in public facilities, Waste 360 said.

A new bipartisan bill could add up to annual energy savings of $47 billion. The Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act of 2012 from Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) aims to create tax incentives for water reuse, advanced motors that connect with the smart grid, chillers, and highly efficient thermal biomass, and also expand incentives for CHP systems, Senator Bingaman’s office said.

The EPA has reached an agreement with BASF Corp. regarding alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the company’s Wyandotte, Mich., chemical manufacturing facility. BASF has agreed to pay a $788,048 penalty and spend at least $250,000 on an environmental project to retrofit or replace municipal diesel engines in Wayne County with certified clean-diesel technologies, the agency said.

The National Ocean Industries Association issued a statement about the Obama administration’s proposed final 2012-2017 outer continental shelf leasing plan. The group said that the plan is not in step with the energy policies of other nations, and that important areas, such as lease sales in areas of offshore Virginia, were omitted. The group was also critical of the delayed leasing in areas off Alaska.

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