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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EPA Soot Rule, Chevron and Kaiser Fines, Chinese Solar Tariffs, Cape Wind

The White House quietly modified the EPA’s proposal to limit soot emissions, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post. The EPA’s original proposal sought to change annual exposure limits for fine-particle soot from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 12 micrograms per cubic meter, but before the public consultation, the Office of Management and Budget directed the EPA to make the limit between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Chevron USA has agreed to pay nearly $500,000, split between the state and federal government, to resolve allegations that its asphalt refinery in Perth Amboy, N.J., violated air pollution laws. A joint state-federal complaint alleged Chevron violated rules relating to leak detection, repair and record-keeping. It also claimed the firm installed equipment without first obtaining operating permits, the Associated Press said.

Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in Los Angeles has agreed to pay $73,000 to settle a lawsuit related to disposal of medical waste from one of its medical centers. The settlement follows allegations that Kaiser’s South Bay Medical Center delivered contaminated surgical devices and surgical drapes to the Carson Waste Management transfer station in 2010, Waste & Recycling News said.

The FDA has revised the regulation of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in the Federal Register, to clarify for consumers that BPA is no longer in these child products, though it is used in other food contact materials. The American Chemistry Council requested a revision to the rule in October 2011, in an effort to make that clarification, Environmental Protection writes.

US importers of Chinese panels may have to pay about $100 million in retroactive tariffs, if a trade office does not overturn the fines later this year. US installers and developers, smaller businesses that are said to benefit from cheap Chinese panels, could lose 60,000 jobs from the tariffs. SolarWorld and six other solar manufacturers said in their petition for the tariffs that unfairly priced Chinese panels have led to the loss of about 2,000 American jobs, writes Inside Climate News.

House representatives John Mica (R-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) have sent a letter to the FAA, raising questions about the the agency’s analysis of the proposed 130-turbine Cape Wind offshore project in Nantucket Sound. The lawmakers said that political pressure from the White House may have caused the agency to ignore concerns about the danger the wind farm would pose to air traffic, the Boston Herald said.

The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment has approved Article X, the new power plant siting law that establishes a centralized certification process for electric generating facilities. The law covers all proposed generation projects exceeding 25 MW, and existing facilities that seek modifications to increase capacity by more than 25 MW, North American Windpower said.

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has ordered the state’s public utility commission to review health and safety concerns related to smart meters. Maine was one of the first states to offer an opt-out option for customers that did not want a smart meter for any reason, but the court found that the PUC did not adequately address safety concerns and will have to revisit the issue, writes Greentech Media.

Australia’s Climate Change Authority has kicked off a review of the country’s Renewable Energy Target, consulting with industry stakeholders including the Australian Photovoltaic Association, the Alternative Technology Association and the Solar Business Council. The authority is a newly formed independent statutory body that aims to provide advice on Australia’s carbon price, emissions reduction targets, and other climate change initiatives, EcoGeneration reports.

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