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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Perciasepe in Top EPA Spot, CARB Car Regs, Wind PTC

With EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stepping down in early 2013, the White House said that Robert Perciasepe, the agency’s deputy administrator, will take the top job in an acting capacity if no nominee has been Senate-confirmed when she departs. Potential nominees, in addition to Perciasepe, include Gina McCarthy, who is currently EPA’s top air pollution regulator; Kathleen McGinty, who served as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2003 ti 2008; Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board; and Daniel Esty, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, The Hill reports.

The “fiscal cliff” deal agreed by Congress yesterday extends, by one year, the tax credit for renewably generated electricity such as wind power, the Associated Press says. Wind turbine maker Vestas said this will strengthen the market compared to how it would fare without a tax credit extension, but said the late timing of the extension will significantly reduce 2013 installations compared to previous years, Reuters reports.

The EPA has formally granted a California Air Resources Board request for a waiver of preemption for its Advanced Clean Car regulations. The ACC regulations revise California’s Low Emission Vehicle and Zero Emission Vehicle programs. The ACC program applies to light-duty vehicles, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, Green Car Congress said.

US Magistrate Judge Steven Rau has ruled that seven environmental groups may not enter the legal battle between North Dakota and Minnesota over coal power plants. North Dakota’s attorney general, joined by three utilities, two coal companies and a lignite trade group, is suing to invalidate a 2007 Minnesota law restricting imports of electricity from new coal-fired power plants in other states. The ruling says that the Minnesota attorney general is able to defend the lawsuit, and the case will not be enhanced by adding environmental interests as parties, the Associated Press said.

Hawaiian Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who will replace the late Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, said that climate change will be a top priority for his legislative agenda. Schatz will serve until 2014, and plans to run in a special election to fill the remaining two years of Inouye’s term. Schatz also said he would run for a full term in 2016, The Hill reports.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a final rule pursuant to section 215 of the Federal Power Act, approving modifications to the definition of bulk electric systems developed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. The modified definition removes language allowing for regional discretion in the current bulk electric system definition and establishes a bright-line threshold that includes all facilities operated at or above 100 kV, FERC said.

General Biodiesel will pay a $62,985 penalty for failing to report hazardous chemicals, a violation of federal emergency planning laws. In 2009 and 2010, General Biodiesel failed to submit Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory forms to the Seattle fire department, King County emergency management, and Washington’s Emergency Response Commission for the use of hazardous chemicals including methanol, sodium methoxide, and sulfuric acid, the EPA said.

The EPA has released its plan to remove mercury contamination from the sediment of the Acid Brook Delta of Pompton Lake in Pompton Lakes, N.J. The plan will go into effect as a modification of a permit, which legally requires DuPont to fund and perform the work. DuPont will dredge at least 100,000 cubic yards of mercury contaminated sediment in a 40-acre area of Pompton Lake and remove at least 7,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil from a shoreline area of the lake affected by the company’s past discharges, the agency said.

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