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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: BP Settlement Talks, Chinese Wind Farm Buy, NY Fracking, US Fracking Poll

Talks between BP and the US government to reach a settlement over the BP Gulf of Mexico 2010 oil spill have stalled because the US is holding out for at least $18 billion. BP wanted to resolve all criminal and civil penalties before the US election, but the board is split on whether to settle at the DOJ’s offer, UK’s Sunday Times said.

The Obama administration announced that it would block a Chinese-owned company Ralls Corporation from acquiring four wind farm companies in Oregon. The Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States recommended a denial of the investment from China because the wind farms are all within or near restricted air space at a naval training facility in the state, a recommendation that Obama accepted, The Hill said.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation have said they would restart the regulatory rule-making process for a decision regarding hydraulic fracturing in the state. The move requires the industry to repeat a number of formal steps, including holding a public hearing, and will likely push a decision into next year, the New York Times said.

A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 21-24, finds that 56 percent of Americans say there needs to be more regulation of fracking, down from 65 percent in March. The share of respondents calling for less regulation of fracking rose to 29 percent, from 18 percent in March. Supporters of Mitt Romney reported having greater faith in existing drilling rules, with only 32 percent calling for more regulation compared with 76 percent of Obama supporters, Bloomberg said.

Germany’s European Energy Exchange (EEX) and London-based ICE Futures Europe released details on the timings of early auctions of Phase 3 European Union carbon permits on behalf of their respective governments. The scheme’s third trading period starts next year and lasts until 2020. EEX will auction a total of 23.5 million Phase 3 EUAs, and the UK can auction a total of 12 million Phase 3 EUAs before the end of the year, Reuters said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA have signed a $1.33 million joint consent decree with GSP Management Co. due to drinking water and wastewater issues at 73 mobile home parks over five years. The wastewater violations include illegal discharge of partially treated or untreated sewage into nearby streams and failure to properly operate and maintain wastewater treatment facilities. The drinking water violations include exceeding federal drinking water standards for certain pollutants and failing to notify residents about drinking water problems, the state DEP said.

The Department of Justice, the EPA and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection announced a $25 million agreement for the cleanup of the Rio Tinto Mine, an abandoned copper mine in Elko County, Nev. The four corporations financing the cleanup, Atlantic Richfield, DuPont and Co., The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company and Teck American Inc. are corporate successors to companies that operated the mine from 1932 to 1976, the EPA said.

BP Products North America will pay a $210,000 penalty and implement an enhanced oil spill response program at its oil terminals nationwide, as well as a comprehensive compliance audit to resolve alleged violations of oil spill response regulations at its Curtis Bay Terminal in Maryland. EPA alleged that BP Products violated federal regulations requiring oil storage facilities to conduct drills and exercises to respond to oil spills at the terminal. The civil penalty is EPA’s highest to date for violations of oil drills and exercises requirements where there was no discharge of oil, the agency said.

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