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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Soot Rules, Energy Manufacturing Act, EU Environment Plan

The EPA has sent its final version of soot rules to the White House for review yesterday. The agency said it expects to meet a court-ordered deadline of December 14 to strengthen Clean Air Act rules regarding the air quality standards for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), The Hill said.

The House of Representatives yesterday passed the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act (H.R. 6582), which updates equipment efficiency standards previously enacted by Congress and aims to reduce barriers to industrial energy efficiency deployment, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The bill modifies legislation that passed the Senate last month, and will return to the Senate for final approval.

Specifically, the act eases federal regulations on the manufacture of coolers, water heaters and other appliances, The Hill said. The act includes language to allow manufacturers of walk-in coolers to use different standards to meet energy efficiency goals. It also establishes best practices for smart electric meters in the federal government, and sets federal energy management and data collection standards.

The European Commission released a new Environment Action Program, a plan that updates the EU’s various environmental programs including the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, Biodiversity Strategy and Low Carbon Economy Roadmap. It aims to secure the commitment of EU member states and other stakeholders for environment policy action up to 2020. Among the plan’s nine objectives are the goals to boost low-carbon growth, protect nature and address environment-related threats to health, the commission said.

EU energy ministers from the 27 member states are seeking some guidance from the European Commission on post-2020 reform of green fuel subsidies as part of the policy debate on 2030 targets. A document asks for “non-binding guidance on the further improvement of national support schemes,” Reuters said. Meanwhile, the Coalition of Progressive European Energy Companies, whose membership includes SSE, Eneco, DONG Energy, EWE, Acciona, Sorgenia, EDP Renewables and Stadtwerke München, issued a statement to the energy ministers to support continuation of targeted and ambitious renewables policies and measures towards 2030, such as new binding targets, the group said.

Federal prosecutors in West Virginia charged David C. Hughart, the former president of Massey’s Green Valley Coal Company, with one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and a second misdemeanor conspiracy count. The charges stem from the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners. Prosecutors say that he and others knowingly conspired to violate safety laws at the mines and to hide those violations by giving advance warnings of surprise inspections, the New York Times said.

The Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU Law School submitted a notice of intent last week to sue the EPA to force the organization to put a cap on carbon emissions from fuels used in boats, planes and other vehicles. A 2009 petition requested that the agency propose and adopt regulations for a cap-and-trade system to control emissions of greenhouse gases from fuels used in motor vehicles, nonroad vehicles, and aircraft under the Clean Air Act, related to the protection of public welfare. The EPA did not respond to the petition, creating the opening for the suit, the institute said.

Ohio-based manufacturer Owens-Brockway Glass Container has reached an agreement with the EPA and DOJ and will pay a $1.45 million penalty to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at five of the company’s manufacturing plants. As well, the company will install pollution control equipment to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter (PM) by nearly 2,500 tons per year, the EPA said.

China Nuclear Industry Huaxing Construction Co., a nuclear engineering company tied to the Chinese government, pleaded guilty in US court to charges of illegally exporting high-performance coatings to a nuclear power plant in Pakistan. The company admitted to charges that it conspired to ship the coatings through China to Pakistan in 2006 and 2007. The shipments were made despite Washington’s restrictions on exports of the coatings directly to Pakistan’s Chashma II nuclear power plant, Reuters said.

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