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Policy & Enforcement: Efficiency Bill, $34m Superfund Site, States to Sue EPA

Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and the cities of New York and the District of Columbia, have sent the EPA a formal notice of intent to sue over the agency’s failure to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, the Hill reported. This month, the EPA missed a deadline to finalize standards for new plants.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 21-1 yesterday to approve the nomination of MIT physicist Ernest Moniz to lead the Department of EnergyPolitico reports. A full Senate vote on his nomination has not yet been scheduled.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced an energy efficiency bill that is slimmed down compared to their offering last year, the Hill reports. The bill calls for more stringent building codes and a new state-based financing program, but no longer calls for expansion of federal loan guarantees. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the bill Tuesday.

SL Industries and SL Surface Technologies have agreed to perform about $23 million of soil cleanup and reimburse the EPA’s $10.7 million of past costs at the Puchack Well Field Superfund site in Pennsauken Township, NJ. The soil to be cleaned up is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, and six public drinking water wells near the site had to be taken out of use due to contamination, the agency said.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said the House would introduce its own version of the Water Resources Development Act by late spring or early summer, the Hill reported. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the act, which would make low-interest loans available for water infrastructure projects, in March.

The Department of Energy and Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources have signed a memorandum of understanding that seeks to accelerate development of vast unconventional energy resources including viscous oil and methane hydrates. The MOU aims to improve the agencies’ cooperation related to research and development, and enhance information sharing, the DOE said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has a white paper examining the effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard on the agricultural sector. It is the second in a series of white papers, an effort led by chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and ranking member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA). The committee is seeking comments by April 29.

Three Republican congressmen have introduced HR 1613, which would approve and implement the terms of the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Reservoirs Agreement, signed in 2012, to enable greater energy exploration and development for resources across the countries’ maritime border. The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a legislative hearing on the bill April 25.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday conditionally accepted more Order No. 1000 compliance filings, including plans from the California Independent System Operator and New York Independent System Operator, the agency said. The order is designed to make major progress towards a more productive and efficient electric transmission grid. FERC also conditionally accepted Order No. 1000 compliance filings from two public utility transmission providers, South Carolina Electric and Gas Company and NorthWestern Corp., and granted waivers to Lockhart Power Co. and Alcoa Power Generating Inc.

FERC is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would extend the scope of systems protected by cyber security standards. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation submitted the proposal, which constitutes version 5 of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards, in January.

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