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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Sequester Costs; BP Wants UK-US Talks

BP plans to ask British prime minister David Cameron to intervene with the US government over the rising cost of compensation related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The company believes its financial recovery is in peril, and it may become a takeover target, because of fictitious and inflated claims, the BBC reports.

The sequester will cost the federal government $150 million in revenues by delaying oil and gas lease sales, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee said in a report. The congressmen said the bureau has already cancelled two lease sales because of the cuts, the Hill reported. 

The International Civil Aviation Organization looks unlikely to reach agreement on a global deal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airlinersReuters says. Parties disagree on how to charge for emissions for cross-border flights, how to treat developing countries, and whether the regulations should apply to airlines, countries or both. The EU has said it will bring its own program back into force unless the ICAO makes true progress.

US District Judge David Campbell on Thursday refused to reconsider the Interior Department’s authority to ban new hard rock mining claims on federal land, the AP said. Mining industry groups had urged Campbell to reconsider his March 20 ruling, upholding the department’s 2012 mining prohibition for over a million acres near the Grand Canyon. 

The House will vote this week on HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which backers say would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built without a presidential permit.  The House Rules Committee set a Tuesday deadline for amendments, signaling the chamber’s timeline for rule approval and a floor vote, the Hill says.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s environment and economy subcommittee will reconvene its legislative hearing on the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, the Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act, and the Federal Facility Accountability Act. The bills seek to modernize existing federal law and increase state authority for certain environmental regulations. Witnesses will be posted here.

The EPA has transferred operational and maintenance responsibility for the groundwater treatment system at the Whittier Narrow Operable Unit, in the San Gabriel Valley Area 1 Superfund site, to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The EPA began investigating groundwater contamination in the area in the late 1980s. The two agencies built and began operating the treatment plant for removal of volatile organic compounds in 2002.

San Diego County has met the 1997 national health-based air quality standard for smog, also known as ground-level ozone, the EPA announced. The agency has also approved the state’s plan to maintain clean air standards for the San Diego area.

Work has begun to address soil contamination at the Pacific Pipeline Superfund Site in Fillmore, Calif., as part of a recent settlement with Chevron subsidiary Texaco Inc., the EPA said. Texaco will excavate 20,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Additional groundwater remediation will begin in early 2014, and the overall is work is estimated to cost more than $8 million.

The EPA has ordered two gas stations to close their underground injection wells to protect drinking water on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington. The gas stations in Wapato and White Swan will pay $13,140 and $11,991 in federal penalties for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA says. 

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