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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Solar Tariffs, Formaldehyde, ‘Sue and Settle’ Tactics

The White House is negotiating to drop its steep tariffs on Chinese solar panels, and the EU is talking with China to avoid tariffs scheduled to take effect next month, the New York Times reports. The plan under discussion would create regional solar markets, require Chinese companies to charge more, and limit how many solar panels they ship.

Environmental groups have forced more than 100 new rules from the EPA using “sue and settle” tactics, according to a Chamber of Commerce study, the Hill reports. Under the tactic, a group sues a federal agency for failing to meet a regulatory requirement, and this results in a consent decrees that “reprograms” the agency’s priorities, the chamber said.

The White House finished a delayed review of two proposed rules governing formaldehyde emission standards for wood products, including plywood and particleboard, the Hill reports. The regulations passed by Congress in July 2010 ask the EPA to create the standards under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and to create a third-party compliance system. The EPA was supposed to finalize the rules by January 1, but the proposals have been stuck at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The EPA has added nine sites to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites, and has proposed nine more. The newly listed sites are the Macon Naval Ordnance Plant (former ordnance manufacturer) in Macon, Ga.; Pike and Mulberry Streets PCE Plume (former dry cleaner) in Martinsville, Ind.; former United Zinc & Associated Smelters (former zinc smelter) in Iola, Kan.; Creese & Cook Tannery (former tannery and finishing facility) in Danvers, Mass.; Walton & Lonsbury Inc. (former chrome plating operation) in Attelboro, Mass.; Matlack, Inc. (former chemical transportation business) in Woolwich Township, N.J.; Riverside Industrial Park (former paint manufacturer) in Newark, N.J.; Clinch River Corporation (former pulp and paper mill) in Harriman, Tenn.; and 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume (ground water plume) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The EPA was due to publish its Tier 3 low-sulfur gasoline rules in the Federal Register yesterday, nearly two months after it detailed the draft regulations, the Hill says. The comment period on the 1,572-page plan is open until June 13.

Eight Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to the EPA, requesting a suspension of rulemaking for its forthcoming National Stormwater Rule. The senators say the rule could force individuals and small businesses to pay large sums for managing stormwater on their properties, without giving them the chance to provide input into rulemaking.

The water and wildlife subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will today hold a hearing on nutrient trading and water quality. Witnesses will include representatives from the EPA, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, DC Water, and the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability at the University of Arkansas. And tomorrow, the full committee will hold a hearing on the re-nomination of Allison Macfarlane, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The water resources and environment subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing today on the EPA’s 2014 budget and fiscal priorities. Witnesses include Nancy Stoner, the acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, and Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

The energy and mineral resources subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing today on several bills: HR 1964, which seeks to speed competitive oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve; HR 1965, which aims to streamline oil shale development; HR 1394, which would direct the secretary of the interior to establish four-year goals for energy production on federal lands; and HR 555, which would authorize the secretary of the interior to conduct live, online lease sales for onshore oil and gas.

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