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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Pesticide Ban, Pebble Mine, Solar Glass Claims

The European Union has voted to impose a two-year ban on neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides linked to bee decline. The decision is a serious defeat for chemical companies, the Guardian says. The European Commission wants a moratorium to begin no later than July 1, the BBC reports.

The proposed Pebble Mine copper and gold project in Bristol Bay, Alaska would destroy 90 miles of streams and up to 4,800 acres of wetland salmon habitat, according to an EPA revised draft assessment, the Hill reports. A public comment period runs until May 31, after which the EPA will finalize the study.

The Department of Interior announced an oil and gas lease sale in August for more than 21 million acres offshore Texas. This third auction in the 2012-2017 leasing program will include 3,953 blocks, covering about 21.1 million acres, which could produce up to 200 million barrels of oil and up to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas, the department said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has started an inspection into a loss of offsite power following a lighting strike at Exelon’s LaSalle Units 1 and 2 boiling water reactors in Marseilles, Ill., on April 17. Both units shut down automatically and all control rods were inserted. The emergency diesel generators started and powered the safety-related systems as planned, the NRC said.

The European Commission on Saturday began investigating claims that Chinese manufacturers are selling solar glass below cost, Reuters reports. The case is separate to the continent’s largest trade investigation, into subsidies and alleged dumping of Chinese solar panels.

European countries will need to introduce carbon taxes if the continent’s emissions trading system proves beyond repair, E.ON chief executive Johannes Teyssen told the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, according to Reuters. Teyssen said that unless action is taken to save the system quickly, Europe’s climate efforts will face “a decade of stagnation.”

The EPA has approved Iowa’s 2012 list of 479 impaired waters requiring total maximum daily load calculations. The state Department Natural Resources added 78 water bodies to the list and removed 73.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed HR 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, by a vote of 394– 1. The bill lays out plans to sell helium from the Federal Helium Reserve in a responsible manner, to prevent a global shortage, protect jobs and and ensure a fairer return for taxpayers,  the House Committee on Natural Resources says.

The EPA will award about $4 million in grants to 20 communities to help them to plan for cleanup and reuse of brownfields. The agency will award up to $200,000 per recipient.

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