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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Pollution Rule Setback, Deutsche Bank Penalty

The US Court of Appeals has dealt a blow for the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The court denied the Obama administration’s request for a full court review of a August 2012 decision striking down the rule, The Hill said. National Resources Defense Council attorney John Walke said it was a “terrible day for clean air in America.” The EPA said it is reviewing the decision and would determine its course of action once the review is complete.

Royal Dutch Shell signed a contract at the World Economic Forum to drill for natural gas in Ukraine. The production agreement covers the Yuzivska gas field in the eastern part of the country. The project could give momentum to unconventional gas extraction in Europe, which lags far behind the United States in this sector, the New York Times said.

EU carbon prices slid 40 percent to a record low after politicians opposed plans to support the market. Prices dropped to €2.81 a metric ton after a vote in the European Parliament’s energy and industry committee opposing a scheme known as backloading, which is designed to temporarily reduce supply. The Commission warned that the price could drop dramatically and the scheme could become irrelevant unless parties agreed on a rescue plan, Reuters said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a settlement with Deutsche Bank Energy Trading to resolve an order-to-show-cause proceeding regarding manipulation of California power markets. Deutsche Bank neither admits nor denies the violations. It agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1.5 million and disgorge unjust profits of $172,645, plus interest, resulting from its trading in California Independent System Operator markets, FERC said.

Brazilian research institute Imazon said that deforestation increased for the fourth consecutive month in December, based on a review through satellite imagery. In the last five months of 2012, Imazon detected clearings of 497 square miles of woodland. Researchers and government officials say more data is needed to confirm that a full-fledged reversal of Brazil’s reduced deforestation trend is under way, Reuters said.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate estimates that geological formations under the Norwegian Sea could store 5.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide – or about 100 times the country’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide. In 2011, the NPD estimated that there are 70 billion tons of storage space below Norway’s sector of the North Sea, Reuters said.

The EPA has reached settlements with two subsidiaries of the Kemira Group for violations of chemical and pesticide laws. The settlement with Kemira Chemicals resolves alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Under the terms of the agreement, Kemira Chemicals has corrected the alleged violations and will pay a civil penalty of $301,600. Kemira Water Solutions, in correcting 27 violations of the Toxic Substance Control Act’s Inventory Update Reporting rule for the 2006 reporting period, will pay a civil penalty of $503,110, the agency said.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers spent nearly $2 million on lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with $500,000 for the same period in 2011. The group’s lobbying expenditures totaled $971,000 in the third quarter of 2012. AFPM has fought a biofuel-blending mandate and sought to reverse an EPA decision that permitted sales of a high-ethanol fuel blend, The Hill said.

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