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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Cape Wind, GAO Backs EPA Rules, Chromium Lawsuit

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled that the planned 130-turbine Cape Wind offshore project will have no effect on the safety of area aeronautical operations, repeating a finding that was overturned by the US Court of Appeals last year. This is believed to be the final federal regulatory clearance for the 11-year effort to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, the Boston Globe said.

The GAO said the implementation of EPA rules – the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the proposed Cooling Water Intake Structures regulation, and the proposed Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals regulation – will likely pose electric reliability challenges, but that power plant operators can overcome these. The accounting office said that the challenges do not amount to the “widespread concerns” Republicans and the utility industry have claimed, The Hill reports.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement finalized an offshore drilling rule on safety measures put in place after the 2010 BP oil explosion. The rule includes new standards for well designs, and requires third-party verification of subsea blowout preventers. The final rule also clarifies the installation standards for dual mechanical barriers, and defines cement-testing requirements, The Hill said.

New Mexico utility PNM Resources received an order from the N.M. Public Regulation Commission allowing the collection of renewable energy expenses through a rider. PNM expects $6.7 million in revenue in 2012 from the rider for NMPRC-approved renewable energy procurement costs. Projects include five utility-scale solar facilities, a battery-storage project, purchases of renewable energy and renewable energy certificates and some wind resource procurements, PNM said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group sued the California Department of Public Health for failing to regulate the carcinogen hexavalent chromium in drinking water. The agency was supposed to establish a safe drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium eight years ago. The chemical, used for the production of stainless steel, textile dyes and wood preservation, usually enters the drinking water supply by running off from industrial operations into surface waters or leaching from soil into groundwater, EWG said.

The EPA has issued a legal complaint to the owners and operators of 22 underground storage tanks at gasoline stations in the Buffalo, New York area for violating federal regulations dealing with ground water from petroleum contamination. The complaint, which seeks $582,800 in penalties, was issued to Amerimart Development Company, Qual-Econ Lease Co., Commercial Realty Fund II, MJG Enterprises, and Clear Alternative of Western NY, Inc., the agency said.

Massachusetts is expected to disqualify a number of wood-fired power plants from green-energy benefits programs starting today because of their emissions. The new rules seek to ensure that biomass plants produce fewer net greenhouse gas than plants that burn fossil fuels, the Wall Street Journal said.

The City of Fitchburg, Mass., will pay a civil penalty of $141,000 for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, related to allegations that Fitchburg violated conditions of its permit controlling combined sewer overflows, bypassed wastewater flows around its secondary treatment system, and violated numeric effluent limits on hundreds of occasions. The city will complete a supplemental environmental project worth at least $100,000, along with other remedial measures to minimize future discharges of pollutants into the environment, the EPA said.

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