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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Wind PTC, US Fracking Rules Delayed, Belarus and Doha

Renewable industry groups including the Geothermal Energy Association, Biomass Power Association, Energy Recovery Council and National Hydropower Association have asked President Obama for a change to the wind production tax credit. The requested change would allow geothermal, hydropower, waste-to-energy and biomass projects under construction before 2014 to collect a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour credit for power production, The Hill said.

The Interior Department no longer plans to finalize rules in 2012 that will impose new controls on hydraulic fracturing. The Bureau of Land Management received 170,000 comments on the draft rules released in May and said it wants to have enough time to properly review the comments. Industry groups have criticized the proposed rules for federal lands, saying that state oversight is sufficient, The Hill said.

An official with the Belarus delegation said he would recommend that Minsk now abandon the new treaty from Doha, Qatar, just 48 hours after it was extended. Alexandre Grebenkov, who works for the UN Development Program and negotiates on behalf of Belarus, said that Ukraine and Kazakhstan also might withdraw from the treaty because of a provision that capped their emissions at 2008-2010 levels, Reuters said.

A coalition of seven eastern states including New York, Connecticut and Delaware plans to sue the EPA for failing to issue new guidelines to curb methane emissions. In their letter to the agency, the states said recent dramatic weather patterns were linked to methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and the agency should have addressed methane emissions when it revised emission control standards in August, Reuters said.

TransCanada must stop work for two weeks on a part of its Keystone XL pipeline while a Texas judge reviews a Nacogdoches County landowner’s challenge that the line was permitted to carry only crude oil, not bitumen obtained from Canadian tar sands. Michael Bishop, a chemist, claims that TransCanada has misled and misrepresented the nature of its product to regulators, landowners and the public in order to obtain permits and eminent domain rights, Bloomberg said.

W&T Offshore has reached a $1 million agreement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana that resolves environmental violations related to the company’s Ewing Banks 910 oil and gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the agreement, W&T will plead guilty to one felony count under the Clean Water Act and to one misdemeanor count for negligence. The company said it will to pay a $700,000 fine and make a $300,000 community service payment.

A printing company near Springfield, Mass. has paid a penalty of $118,600 to settle EPA claims that it violated the Clean Air Act. Suddekor, Inc., which is owned by a German company, is an international manufacturer of decorative printed papers using inks containing hazardous air pollutants, and should have a Title V operating permit, the EPA said.

A settlement between the EPA and two subsidiaries of Student Transportation of America (STA) – Ocean State Transit and STA of Connecticut addresses excessive idling across a fleet of 7,500 school buses operating in 16 states. The agreement reduces school children’s exposure to diesel pollution, the EPA said. Under the settlement, the companies will pay a $35,000 penalty and perform environmental projects valued at $131,000, the EPA said.

The Miller Company, of Meriden, Conn., has agreed to spend $25,000 to purchase and provide emergency response equipment for the Meriden Fire Department, in a settlement with the EPA. The company’s copper base alloys manufacturing facility, which has an oil storage capacity of 50,000 gallons, was alleged to be the source of a 2010 oil spill into Harbor Brook, the agency said.

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