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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: BP Biofuel Plant, Gulf of Mexico Leases, EU Climate Talks

The Interior Department and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published details on its oil and gas lease sale of more than 20 million acres offshore and all unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 229, on November 28 in New Orleans, is the first offshore sale under the Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017, the DOI said.

BP has canceled plans to build a 36 million gallon cellulosic biofuel plant in Florida. The plant would have processed tough grasses such as sorghum and cane. BP said it now planned to focus on research and development and licensing of its biofuels technology, the New York Times said. Cellulosic biofuel has become a political issue as companies fail to make enough to comply with government mandates.

EU talks in preparation for the international climate summit in Doha next month ended after Poland opposed discussion of more ambitious attempts to curb atmospheric pollution. Some EU member states want to nullify excess allowances of pollution permits – Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) – of which Poland has a surplus, Reuters said.

The Chinese government has lowered its target for the construction of nuclear power plants by 2015, by not building more nuclear reactors at inland locations. The government plans 40 GW of nuclear power capacity to be installed by 2015, down from 50 GW in the country’s current Five-Year Plan, the New York Times said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that the US is gaining ground on Germany and Japan in nuclear technical expertise. Germany decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022, and Japan also said it plans to eliminate nuclear power. The NRC said it expects US design certification applications for new types of reactors in the next year, The Hill reports.

Sunoco has agreed to pay a $117,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its former facility in Philadelphia. EPA cited Sunoco for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The alleged violations related to storage of phenol sludge without a permit; storage of a leaking spent lead-acid battery; and failure to keep universal waste lamps in a closed container, the EPA said.

The American Petroleum Institute might push for legislation to block new Securities and Exchange Commission mandates. The new SEC rules will force publicly traded oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments related to projects in their countries; petroleum companies say this will create severe competitive harms, The Hill said.

Consumer Watchdog has called on the head of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control urging the agency to sanction or pull permits of serial environmental violators, including Chevron and Evergreen Oil. In the case of Phibro-Tech, the company has operated on an expired permit from the DTSC for the past 15 years and repeatedly settled out of court with the DTSC for infractions, the group said.

The County of Maui in Hawaii will spend $5.1 million on compliance measures and a renewable energy project in an agreement with the EPA to resolve alleged violations of air pollution laws at Central Maui Landfill in Puunene. The County will also pay a civil penalty of $380,000, the agency said.

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