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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: $2.3m Clean Water Settlement, Timber Regs, State of the Union

Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing has reached a $2,302,500 settlement including a $556,244 civil penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at its facility in Coffeyville, Kansas. CRRM also will pay $1,746,256 for reimbursement of federal response costs associated with the cleanup of the Verdigris River following a 2007 flood and oil spill, the EPA said.

The United States has approved the $15.1bn sale of Canadian oil firm Nexen to China’s state-owned CNOOC, clearing the way for the deal to be completed. The deal was approved by Canadian authorities but also needed US approval because Nexen has operations inside the US, and US regulators had previously blocked an attempt by CNOOC to buy a US-based firm, the BBC said.

President Obama proposed an Energy Security Trust program in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, to divert some revenues from federal oil and gas drilling into research for alternative fuel technology. Obama suggseted that the program would reduce household gasoline expenses. Obama also discussed executive actions as a method to address climate change, The Hill said.

Royal Dutch Shell will tow its two Alaskan Arctic drill vessels to Asian ports for major repairs, which may delay its plans to begin drilling for oil by next summer. The delay also may give the Obama administration more time to decide whether to allow Shell’s seven-year, $4.5 billion quest to continue operations in two Arctic seas after accidents, failed inspections and mechanical problems, the New York Times said.

The New York State decision to lift a four-year ban on natural gas drilling faced further delay after the New York Department of Health, which has been commissioned to study fracking’s effects on public health, asked for a few more weeks to review the issues. The health review, and a parallel environmental impact study being conducted by the DEC, will form the basis of new regulations that could open New York’s borders to drilling once again. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deadline for drafting drilling regulations is February 27, Reuters said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy have sued the town of Sanford, N.Y., in the Marcellus Shale region. The suit alleges that a town board ruling that bars further discussion of fracking in meetings violated residents’ free speech rights. The resolution said the town had already heard extensively from both sides, and would not hear more until the state completed its environmental review, the New York Times said.

Companies importing timber into the EU must comply with new stricter laws banning the use of illegal timber, coming into force in the UK this March. The EU Timber Regulations impose stricter requirements such as evidence of compliance with legislation, and a description of species, volume, country of harvest and, where applicable, concession of harvest, Builders’ Merchants News said.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, will hold a briefing today on the most recent climate change science. The briefing will feature four leading climate scientists – Donald Wuebbles, J. Marshall Shepherd, John Balbus, and James McCarthy.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hold a hearing on Friday, titled “The Role of the States in Protecting the Environment Under Current Law.” Witnesses will be announced.

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