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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Earthjustice Fracking Suit, Prestige Trial Opens, Canadian Protectionism

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the state of California on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Environmental Working Group and the Sierra Club in an effort to stop hydraulic fracturing. The suit accuses the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources of failing to evaluate risks, Reuters said.

The trial of a former ship captain and three other defendants over the sinking of the tanker Prestige and resulting oil spill in 2002 has opened in Galicia, Spain. Beside pursuing criminal charges, prosecutors are demanding financial compensation from the ship’s insurers to cover the costs of the spill, about €4.33 billion ($5.68 billion), the New York Times said.

Canada may lose a dispute at the World Trade Organization brought by the European Union and Japan over support for renewable energy. In Ontario prices for renewable energy were guaranteed as long as the energy was generated with Canadian-made equipment, which Japan described as protectionism. A WTO panel said Canada was breaking WTO rules by requiring firms to source up to 60 percent of their equipment locally, Reuters reports.

South Africa’s Department of Energy has submitted a proposal for the procurement of an additional 3,200 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2020 under its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program. This is in addition to the 3,725 MW currently in procurement. Details on how the new allocation would be split between various renewables technologies is not yet available, Engineering News said.

European Commission draft legislation on biofuels no longer will hold fuel suppliers accountable for the indirect emissions caused by displacing food production into new areas, such as forests and peatlands. But the draft rule keeps a strict limit on the amount of food crops that can be used to make fuel, Reuters said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is forming a Center of Excellence for Environment and Energy – a consortium of the FAA, university partners, and private industry affiliates. Center members will research in a number of areas including aircraft emissions impacts, alternative jet fuels, and aviation environmental policy, Green Car Congress said.

The EPA has finalized its cleanup plan at the Shenandoah Road Ground Water Contamination Superfund site in East Fishkill, N.Y. IBM is expected to perform the cleanup of contaminated ground water with oversight by the EPA. The estimated cost is $2.7 million, the agency said.

A fire burning since September 29 at the Hillcrest Industries recycling facility in Attica, N.Y., is now extinguished, and recent EPA air monitoring results show no detectable levels of volatile organic compounds. The EPA said it is arranging the on-site plastic and glass piles to avoid reignition.

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