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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Shell, BP in Price Probe; Feds ‘Shielded’ Wind Firms

European Commission antitrust regulators are investigating Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Statoil and price reporting company Platts – a subsidiary of McGraw Hill Financial – over potential oil price manipulation. The probe is examining how price reporting companies help determine the cost of raw materials, Bloomberg says.

The federal government is shielding the wind industry from liability for golden eagle deaths, and helping to keep the scale of deaths a secret, an AP investigation alleges. The news agency says the Obama administration has never fined or prosecuted a single wind company for the federal crime, though it has prosecuted oil companies and utilities on the same charge.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions’ license and reactor-design certification for Southern Co.’s two planned nuclear reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia. The judges rejected arguments by nine environmental groups, who said the commission didn’t fully consider lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima disaster, Bloomberg reports.

But Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups also celebrated Monday, after the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued an order that they said would allow a more detailed review of plans to restart the San Onofre nuclear plant in California. The twin-reactor plant has been shut since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of damage to hundreds of tubes carrying radioactive water, the AP reports.

China’s environment ministry has given its approval to construction of the country’s tallest hydroelectric dam, Reuters reports. But the ministry said an environmental impact assessment found the dam would negatively affect rare fish and flora.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) will today introduce a bill calling for the US to increase drilling on federal lands to displace Iranian oil on the world market, the Hill reports. The legislation would require the president to establish enough “Iranian Oil Replacement Zones” to produce 1.25 million barrels of oil per day — about as much as Iran exports.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) has introduced legislation to create a new category for natural gas-based ethanol under the renewable fuel standard, Fuel Fix reports. Currently, only ethanol created from easily renewable materials such as switchgrass or corn starch is covered by the standard.

The Senate Appropriations Committee‘s subcommittee on energy and water development is today holding a review of the president’s fiscal year 2014 funding request and budget justification for the Department of Energy. Acting energy secretary Daniel Poneman will be a witness.

On Thursday, two subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – energy and power, and environment and the economy – will hold a joint hearing to review the president’s FY2014 EPA budget request and discuss the agency’s agenda. EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe will be the only witness.

On Friday, the environment and economy subcommittee will examine three legislative proposals: the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, the Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act, and the Federal Facility Accountability Act. These three bills seek to modernize existing federal law and increase state authority for certain environmental regulations.

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