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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Supreme Court EPA Decision, Dominion $13m Settlement

The Supreme Court rejected the American Petroleum Institute‘s petition to overturn an EPA standard governing short-term spikes in nitrogen dioxide levels around roadways. By deciding not to hear the case, the justices left intact a July 2012 Court of Appeals jugement upholding the rule, Reuters said.

Dominion Energy has agreed to pay a $3.4 million civil penalty and spend about $9.8 million on environmental mitigation projects under a settlement to resolve Clean Air Act violations, the EPA said. Under the settlement, Dominion must also install or upgrade pollution control technology on its plants at Brayon Point, Mass., and Kincaid, Ill., and permanently retire its State Line, Ind., plant. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

The Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration yesterday ordered Exxon Mobil to take necessary corrective action for the leak at its Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, Reuters said. The order said Exxon had estimated a spill of 3,500 to 5,000 barrels of crude, though publicly the company had only said that it recovered 12,000 barrels of oil and water. 

Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel plans to investigate the cause of the leak, CBS reported. He said the company may be liable for the consequences of the spill, under Arkansas’s Water and Air Pollution Act and other laws.

Southern California Edison has submitted a draft request to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to fire up one unit at the San Onofre nuclear plant this spring. Edison plans to run the unit at 70 percent power for five months, then power it down and inspect it, the Los Angeles Times reports. The plant closed over a year ago because of excessive wear on tubes that carry radioactive water.

Emissions from factories and power plants subject to the EU Emissions Trading System fell for a second consecutive year in 2012, with a 1.4 percent drop, Reuters reported. The preliminary data shows the EU on track for its 2020 emissions reduction goal.

Collis Inc, a manufacturer of metal racks and shelving brackets for refrigerators, has agreed to pay a $31,379 administrative civil penalty to settle several Resource Conservation and Recovery Act violations in Clinton, Iowa, the EPA said. The company will also spend at least $91,809 to replace high-mercury fluorescent fixtures with low-mercury fixtures and bulbs, and complete a project to reduce the generation of hazardous solvent waste.

The US Air Force 611th Air Support Group has closed banned motor vehicle waste wells at the Sparrevohn, Tatalina and Indian Mountain Long Range Radar Sites in Alaska, and separately agreed to pay $45,000 to resolve the violations, the EPA said. The EPA banned the use of motor vehicle waste disposal wells nationwide in 2000 because of the risks they pose to drinking water sources, and facilities in Alaska had until 2005 to permanently close this type of well. But the agency said the Air Force wells did not pose an immediate threat to ground water drinking sources.

Ferrell’s Fuel Network, Carson Oil Co. and Tyree Oil Inc. will pay fines and invest in facility upgrades for alleged violations of federal oil spill prevention and response rules under the Clean Water Act, at their Oregon facilities. In settlements with the EPA, Ferrell’s agreed a $28,200 federal fine; Carson agreed a $29,843 federal fine and $35,000 in stormwater control upgrades; and Tyree agreed a $27,920 federal fine, a $2,080 state fine and $200,000 in secondary containment system upgrades.

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