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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: State Dept. on Keystone, TX Water Projects, Polar Bears Protected

The State Department issued a revised environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline, presenting no conclusive environmental reason it should not be built. But the study says that tar sands oil produces 5 percent to 19 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than other crude, depending on what oil was compared and who performed the calculations. The document makes no statement on whether the pipeline is in the United States’ economic and energy interests, a determination to be made by President Obama, the New York Times said.

The Texas Water Development Board says that a number of water infrastructure proposals are moving forward, but not as many as the 26 large new reservoirs envisioned by state water planners for the next half-century. Among the projects are the Upper Trinity Regional Water District’s $270 million Lake Ralph Hall reservoir northeast of Dallas. The Lower Colorado River Authority recently approved preliminary plans for a $206 million reservoir in Wharton County, and the cities of Abilene, Midland and San Angelo are moving forward with plans for a $240 million reservoir, the New York Times said.

The United Nations-backed conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Bangkok, Thailand, opened with some 2,000 representatives from 150 governments, groups, and businesses. The delegates will examine about 70 proposals to amend the current wildlife trade system, which covers about 35,000 species of plants and animals including their products and derivatives, with the aim to stop wildlife poaching and illegal trading, the UN News Center said.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that the country will end its domestic ivory trade, promising legislation that could help the country avoid international trade sanctions. The announcement came at the opening ceremony of the CITES conference in Bangkok, but did not include a timeframe for the new laws, Reuters said.

A federal appeals court upheld EPA protections for the polar bear, maintaining the bear’s listing as threatened, the lower of two levels of federal protection. Environmental groups have argued that the bear should be listed as endangered, the highest level of protection, while industry and sporting groups and the state of Alaska said it didn’t merit any protection at all, Reuters said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has reported on TransCanada’s progress made in licensing and constructing its Alaska Pipeline Project, a natural gas pipeline. TransCanada has posed several alternatives to commercialize Alaska North Slope gas. The company has opened a non-binding solicitation of interest for potential shippers, which would apply to a pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta or to a natural gas liquefaction terminal at a tidewater location in south-central Alaska, FERC said.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing Tuesday titled “American Energy Security and Innovation: The Role of a Diverse Electricity Generation Portfolio.” Witnesses include representatives from American Electric Power, Entergy Wholesale Commodities, and Xcel Energy.

New Hampshire Plate Glass, based in Portsmouth, N.H., faces a penalty of up to $90,750 for allegedly violating requirements designed to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint during painting and other renovation activities. The alleged violations occurred during a window renovation project at the former Frisbee School in Kittery, Maine. The Kittery site was a child-occupied facility at the time of the renovation, subject to EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, the agency said.

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