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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: FERC Resignation, EU Fisheries, GMO Wheat Escapes

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff (pictured) is stepping down. Wellinghoff guided the agency’s Order 1000, which encouraged solar and wind integration while requiring grid planners and public utilities to coordinate on regional transmission. He will stay in his post until a new commissioner is confirmed, Politico reported.

Companies with market capitalization above $100 million should be forced to report their impact on the environment or explain why they are not reporting, according to recommendations by a 27-member panel of world leaders, led by British prime minister David Cameron. The panel’s recommendations will form the basis of a two-year development agenda debate among the 193 UN members.

The EPA issued rules to implement formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products, established by Congress in 2010 under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The proposal includes testing, product labeling and chain-of-custody documentation requirements, and establishes a third-party certification framework. The White House recently finished a review of the rules, which the EPA was supposed to finalize by January 1.

The European Union on Thursday hammered out a significant overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy, the first since 2002, with revisions aimed at ending overfishing by 2015. Negotiators agreed to set quotas at levels consistent with scientific advice and to seek an end to fish discards at sea. The current policy is widely regarded as a failure, with 80 percent of Mediterranean fish stocks and 47 percent of Atlantic stocks overfished, the New York Times said.

The US Department of Agriculture announced it would investigate after experimental and unapproved genetically modified wheat plants were discovered on an Oregon farm. Monsanto Co. developed the wheat years ago but ended trials in 2004, and the discovery marks the first time a test strain of wheat has evaded controls set up by US regulators, Reuters reports. 

The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit seeking potential text messages to or from Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s pick for EPA administrator, on 18 dates when she testified before Congress. The suit alleges the agency has not provided a substantive response to an April Freedom of Information Act request, covering dates McCarthy testified from 2009 to 2012, the Hill reports.

Tesoro Corporation, Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company LLC, and Tesoro Alaska Company have agreed to pay a $1.1 million penalty to resolve claims that Tesoro failed to comply with recordkeeping, reporting, sampling, and testing requirements under the Clean Air Act at four of its refining facilities that produce conventional gasoline, in Washington, Alaska, Utah and North Dakota. The settlement requires that Tesoro implement an environmental compliance and auditing plan.

Rotary Drilling and the EPA have reached a proposed agreement to address environmental impacts from the unauthorized disposal of about 140,000 tons of coal ash from the Rush Island Power Plant owned and operated by Union Electric Company, doing business as Ameren Missouri, the agency said. Rotary Drilling was one of two firms contracted to dispose of the waste. The EPA alleges that the dumping on Rotary’s property in Jefferson County, Mo., had a negative impact on wetlands, an unnamed tributary to Plattin Creek, and a portion of Willers Lake.

In a Clean Air Act settlement, Reddy Ice Corporation agreed to pay a $61,500 penalty and correct deficiencies associated with the risk management program at its facility in Denver, Colo. According to the settlement, Reddy Ice allegedly failed to ensure storage vessels containing hazardous chemicals were constructed according to industry standards, and provided insufficient documentation in plans designed to mitigate on-site hazards. 

The EPA reached an agreement with Clean Harbors Environmental Services to resolve alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act at its industrial waste incineration facility in Aragonite, Utah. As part of the settlement, Clean Harbors has agreed to pay a penalty of $39,900 and correct violations associated with the failure to appropriately report chemicals manufactured and used on site, the EPA said.

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