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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: TSCA Update, Utility Shield Law, Mining Guidance

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced bipartisan legislation to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Vitter said the bill would both strengthen consumer confidence in chemical safety, and permit further innovation, the Times-Picayune reported. If passed, their bill would be the first major change to the law since 1990, the Washington Post said.

The House passed legislation by voice vote on Wednesday to shield electric utilities from environmental fines and lawsuits, if the companies keep power going in emergencies. The bill sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) has broad bipartisan support, FuelFix reports, and now heads to the Senate.

The chief executives of eight leading energy utilities – E.ON, GDF Suez, RWE, Enel, Eni, Iberdrola, Gas Natural and GasTerra – criticized the European Union for what they described as a disjointed energy policy. The CEOs called on political leaders to institute a market more conducive to investment in energy infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A Congressional Budget Office report on Wednesday said a carbon tax could generate “significant” revenue for the US, while avoiding “catastrophic” climate change effects, The Hill said. But the White House has said it would not pursue such a measure.

The House as expected approved HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which declares that a presidential permit is not needed for the northern leg of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill passed 241-175, CNBC reports.

South African water and environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa launched guidance for the mining sector on how to minimize impacts to biodiversity and ecosystems through environmental impact assessments and environmental management. The report establishes a four-step mitigation hierarchy, MiningWeekly.com reports.

The US Bureau of Reclamation has selected five Title XVI water reuse projects in California and New Mexico to receive $15.6 million in funding through the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART program. Among the recipients is the North Bay Water Reuse Program in California, which will receive $4 million to provide recycled water to agricultural, environmental, industrial and landscape uses throughout Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties.

Fluid Recovery Services will invest up to $30 million in facility upgrades, to settle alleged discharge permit violations associated with wastewater from oil and gas extraction, under a Clean Water Act settlement with the EPA. The company will also pay an $83,000 penalty, for violations at wastewater facilities in Franklin, Creekside, and Josephine, Pa., the agency said.

The EPA has reached a legal agreement requiring Apogent Transition Corp., Beazer East, Cooper Industries and Occidental Chemical Corporation to conduct a study, estimated at $750,000, of the contamination at the Standard Chlorine Chemical Company, Inc. Superfund site in Kearny, New Jersey. The site, which is in the New Jersey Meadowlands and is next to the Hackensack River, is contaminated with a number of hazardous chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin, the EPA says. The companies will also pay for the EPA’s costs in overseeing the performance of the study.

Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing has agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty and perform audits of its risk management procedures to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its oil refinery in Coffeyville, Kan. The agreement is the third environmental settlement with CRRM since 2012, the EPA said.

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