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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Heavy Vehicle Pollution, Keystone XL, IT Ecodesign

The European Environment Agency is looking for haulers to pay for air pollution costs from heavy goods vehicles, which is estimated at $56-$60 billion per year, or about half of all road transport pollution. Switzerland and Luxembourg face especially high pollution costs because they are located on the major transit routes. Member states have until October this year to report on their plans for implementing EU law on charging vehicles fairly for using roads. The law includes the option to incorporate the health costs of air pollution into charges for road use, Reuters said.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, said President Obama would send a strong signal of his seriousness on climate change if he rejects the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Hedegaard said that Obama has indicated that he intends to make the final decision on the project, although responsibility technically falls to the State Department, the New York Times reports.

EU member states are this week debating the European Ecodesign Directive, which could place strict eco-requirements on manufacturers of IT equipment including computers and servers. The directive could force firms to meet efficiency levels on numerous aspects of devices, from the power consumption of the overall architecture to requiring the use of GPU components that can power themselves down. The law could also include an energy efficiency labeling scheme for computers and servers, V3 writes.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that he is confident the House can pass a comprehensive energy efficiency bill. In the last weeks of the 112th Congress, the House and the Senate passed some minor energy efficiency bills that became law, and the Senate has indicated it wants to give more ambitious energy efficiency legislation another try during this Congress. Some options, such as energy savings performance contracts, already have bipartisan backing, The Hill reports.

CountryMark Refining and Logistics has agreed to pay a $167,000 civil penalty, perform environmental projects totaling more than $180,000, and spend $18 million on new pollution controls to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at its refinery in Mount Vernon, Ind., in a settlement with the Department of Justice and EPA. As part of the settlement, CountryMark will be the third refiner to put in place new measures to substantially reduce gas emissions from its flare, the DOJ said.

Geneva Energy has agreed to close a tire-burning electric generating plant in Ford Heights, Ill., as part of a settlement of Clean Air Act violations reached with the EPA. The allegations include violations of monitoring and reporting requirements, and emission limits established for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, particulate matter, and opacity. NAES will pay a $185,000 civil penalty, the agency said.

Gardner-Fields of Tacoma, Wash., and IBC Manufacturing Co. of Memphis, Tenn., will pay fines for allegedly violating federal pesticide laws, in separate settlements with the EPA. Gardner-Field will pay a penalty of $35,336 to settle allegations that it produced, sold, and distributed four IBC wood preservatives under its own brand names with outdated labels. IBC, the owner of the products, allowed the wood preservatives to be distributed and sold with outdated labels, the EPA said. IBC agreed to pay a penalty of $265,000 to settle the charges, the agency said.

Waste Management of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu have reached a settlement with the EPA over alleged violations of air pollution laws at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill in Kapolei, Oahu. Waste Management, operator of the landfill, and the city, owner of the landfill, will implement enhanced gas monitoring to reduce the threat of underground fires at the landfill, follow fire response procedures in the event of a fire, and pay a civil penalty of $1.1 million, the agency said.

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