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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Shell Lawsuit, Bayer Settlement, ‘No More Solyndras’ Act

Environmental groups – including Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Audubon Society – have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Anchorage to challenge the Interior Department’s approval of Shell’s Arctic spill response plans. The suit comes as Shell continues with plans to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas over the next two years, the New York Times said.

The EPA has reached a $14.6 million settlement with four companies for the construction of a groundwater treatment system at the Montrose and Del Amo Superfund sites in Torrance, Calif., where groundwater was contaminated by chemicals used to manufacture DDT and synthetic rubber over three decades. The four companies are: Montrose, Bayer CropScience, News Publishing Australia Limited, and Stauffer Management Company. In addition to constructing the treatment system, these parties will also pay oversight costs incurred by EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the agency said.

The UK government has outlined plans to streamline processes for water companies in England and Wales to merge, for new suppliers to enter the market, and for businesses to switch suppliers. The draft bill to reform the water industry could save £2 billion ($3 billion) over the next 30 years, the government said. Its environment agency, Defra, estimates that a realistic target date for opening the retail water market is April 2017, Reuters reports.

Twelve factories producing for the metals, chemicals and recycled paper sectors in eastern China were closed pending investigations after 16 children living near the facilities tested for high levels of lead in their blood. The Jian city government made the closures after community protests, but said there was no evidence to show lead leaching from the industrial park, the Bangkok Post said.

Poland has applied for €33 ($40.5) million of free EU ETS carbon allowances for a planned coal plant site, near the Ukrainian border, but there is no visible evidence that any construction work has begun at the greenfield site, EurActiv said. Under EU rules, power plants can be exempt from the ETS until 2020 only if their investment process was physically initiated before December 31, 2008. The environmental group Client Earth is challenging the legality of this plant and 12 others.

Krysztof Bolesta, the advisor to Poland’s environment minister, Martin Korolec, told EurActiv that Warsaw would continue to veto any solely European 2050 targets because they need a policy that protects industry. Poland produces 95 percent of its electricity from coal. PointCarbon reports that Poland would like to focus discussion on reforming the bloc’s carbon market after the end of the 2013-2020 trading phase, rather than measures that will lead to a deeper 2020 emission reduction targets.

Japan’s new economic growth strategy includes plans to create a 50 trillion yen ($628 billion) green energy market by 2020. The draft proposal calls for deregulation and subsidies to promote development of renewable energy and low-emission cars, Reuters said.

The Las Brisas Energy Center project in Texas may be the first one impacted by the EPA’s March 2012 draft rules for New Source Performance Standards. The $3 billion project would burn refinery byproduct petroleum coke, which produces as much carbon dioxide as coal. Houston-based project developer Chase Power Development has asked a federal appeals court to block the rules, Fuel Fix said.

House Republicans floated legislation this week – the “No More Solyndras Act” – that would block the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program for green energy projects, for any applications received after the end of 2011. For existing applications, the bill would require that no guarantees may be made until the Treasury Department reviews them and makes a recommendation to the Energy Department. Also, DOE must consult with Treasury on the restructuring of any loan guarantees, The Hill said.

The “No More Solyndras Act” will be the focus of a joint hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, on Thursday. The hearing also will review the discussion draft of the “Smart Energy Act.”

The House Committee on Natural Resources will have a meeting today to mark up six bills including H.R. 4606, which aims to authorize the issuance of right-of-way permits for natural gas pipelines in Glacier National Park, and for other purpose.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has a hearing today titled “RIN Fraud: EPA’s Efforts to Ensure Market Integrity in the Renewable Fuels Program.” Witnesses include representatives from New Leaf Biofuel, Union County Biodiesel Co, the National Biodiesel Board and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.

The Adams Land and Cattle Company, a beef feedlot near Broken Bow, Neb., has agreed to pay a $145,000 civil penalty related to alleged discharges of pollutants into Mud Creek, violations of Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, the EPA said.

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