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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Wind Farm Bird Strikes, UK Green Investment Bank, EPA Fracking Tests

A coalition of eight conservation organizations has called on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to make changes at a wind energy facility in Western Maryland to reduce bird and bat mortality. The groups say that the 28-turbine Criterion Wind Project now ranks as the deadliest to birds in the US on a per-turbine basis. The issues are in relation to the violation of four federal environmental statutes – the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the American Bird Conservancy said.

The European Commission has ruled that the UK government’s Green Investment Bank – a plan for lending to low-carbon investment projects – did not break Europe’s state aid rules. The ruling gives permission to use government funds for four years, conditional on lending only to projects that cannot find sufficient funding from commercial markets, the BBC said.

The American Petroleum Institute has raised a flag over the EPA’s water tests at a natural gas drilling site in Pavillion, Wyo., saying the test sample size was too small to determine whether fracking contributed to groundwater contamination. The EPA made the first government connection between fracking and contaminated groundwater at Pavillion in 2011, The Hill said.

The Alberta government will build a comprehensive environmental monitoring program in Canada with the establishment of a new science-based environmental monitoring agency. The agency will begin work in the oil sands region, monitoring land, air, water and biodiversity. Environmental monitoring in the oil sands region will continue through a joint federal-provincial program announced in February while the new agency is set up, Business Week said.

The European Court of Justice ruled that the United Kingdom has breached EU law on water treatment after plants in northern England and London dumped raw sewage into waterways. Britain said that as it had already taken steps to fix the problem with a £4 billion ($6.47) sewage tunnel under commission in London. The court rejected its argument, but has not yet determined the fines, Reuters said.

An EPA delegation will visit Indonesia next week to discuss palm oil emissions. The EPA said palm oil converted into biofuels in Indonesia and Malaysia cut up to 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, falling short of the 20 percent required for entry to the US market. The Indonesian government and palm industry figures have lobbied the US government on the issue, Reuters said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is accepting comments on new optional notice procedures which intrastate pipelines may elect to use when filing proposed rates or operating conditions. The revision would affect natural gas pipelines regulated by section 311 of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 or section 1(c) of the Natural Gas Act. The proposed rule would result in regulatory certainty and a reduction of regulatory burdens, the FERC said.

The government of the District of Columbia has taken steps to preserve 250 acres of open space in Anne Arundel County, Md. The District’s action finalizes a settlement with the EPA involving the city’s use of underground storage tanks at a youth rehabilitation services facility in the Maryland county. The District previously paid a $73,489 penalty, removed 14 USTs and 725 tons of contaminated soil at the facility, the EPA said.

The Maryland Air National Guard 175th Wing has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its facility in Baltimore, Md. EPA cited MDANG for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The consent agreement resolves alleged violations related to the storage of hazardous waste, permits, employee training and record-keeping, the agency said.

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