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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: ExxonMobil, Goodrich, E-Waste Prison Sentence

The Department of Transportation has fined ExxonMobil $1.7 million for alleged pipeline safety violations relating to the company’s Silvertip pipeline, which leaked about 1,500 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River in 2011. The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration said the spill would have been about two-thirds smaller if the company had reacted more quickly, Reuters reports.

The US has settled with the Goodrich Corporation, requiring the company to investigate and clean up contaminated groundwater and soil at the B.F. Goodrich Superfund Site in Rialto, Calif. The latest agreement, together with previous settlements, will result in a comprehensive cleanup of the site which may total as much as $100 million, the EPA said. The US has entered into a separate agreement with KTI, Inc., which will pay $2.8 million for site costs. Goodrich’s solid-fuel rocket propellant operations at the site, from 1957 to 1962, contributed to the closure of public drinking water wells in the area.

A US district court judge fined Discount Computers, Inc. (DCI) $2 million, with $10,839 in restitution to a Michigan landlord, and sentenced DCI owner Mark Jeffrey Glover to 30 months in prison and a $10,000 fine, for trafficking in counterfeit goods and services. The EPA said it was the first such sentence in an e-waste case. DCI placed counterfeit labels on used cathode ray tube monitors that it shipped to Egypt, to make the monitors look newer than they were, and circumvent the country’s ban on importing computer equipment more than five years old. The judge also sentenced DCI for storing and disposing hazardous waste without a permit.

The Department of Energy yesterday launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, a program focused on growing American manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting productivity. The initiative includes private sector partnerships, new funding from the department, and enhanced analysis of the clean energy manufacturing supply chain that will guide the Department’s future funding decisions.

Washington governor Jay Inslee and Oregon governor John Kitzhaber sent a joint letter to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality on Monday, calling on the federal government to consider the global warming effects of five coal export terminals proposed for the two states, the AP reports. The terminals could ship up to 140 million tons of coal a year from Montana and Wyoming to Asia, causing climate and air quality effects in the US “that dwarf almost any other action the federal government could take in the foreseeable future,” the governors wrote.

The EPA has found that 55 percent of stream and river miles across the country are in poor condition for aquatic life, in its first comprehensive survey on the subject. The agency found that 40 percent of US rivers and streams have high levels of phosphorus, 27 percent have excessive nitrogen, 24 percent are in poor health due to loss of vegetative cover, 9 percent have high bacteria levels and more than 13,000 miles of river have fish with mercury levels that may be unsafe for human consumption.

The EPA has proposed to find California’s South Coast air basin in attainment for the coarse particulate matter standard PM-10, based on data collected since 2008. EPA is also proposing to approve the state’s plan for how the area will continue to achieve the standard for at least the next ten years. The area achieved compliance by reducing dust from paved and unpaved roads, certain livestock activities, gravel operations and wood burning, the EPA says.

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has recommended reducing the state’s proposed annual fee on alternative fuel vehicles, from $100 to $64. His administration says the reduced fee better reflects the tax that a resident would pay on gas for the average conventional vehicle, WDBJ.com says.

An audit by the Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General has found that three awardees under the DOE’s industrial carbon capture stimulus program received a total of $90 million, despite reviews of the proposals finding “significant financial and/or technical issues.” The inspector’s report also found that funding recipients submitted $18.3 million in “questionable reimbursement claims.” The audit examined $1.1 billion of the $1.5 billion program, the Hill reports.

Spray Products Corp. has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its manufacturing facility in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., the EPA said. The agency cited Spray Products with violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act including failure to properly date, label and manage hazardous waste containers; failure to conduct weekly inspections of its hazardous waste storage area; failure to provide training to employees responsible for handling hazardous waste; and failure to have a required contingency plan in place for a period of two years.

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