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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Fed’s Carbon Cost, Farm Bill, TSCA

The White House has sharply increased the internal cost it places on carbon, a move that could significantly affect future decisions on policy decisions from the Keystone XL pipeline to power plant emissions rules to efficiency standards for appliances and industrial equipment, InsideClimate News reports. The administration’s central estimate for the cost of carbon to society in 2020 is now $43 per ton, up 66 percent from the $26 per ton calculated in 2010.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has improperly applied its own rules for coal mining lease payments, shortchanging the federal government by tens of millions of dollars, according to an inspector general’s report. The inspection also found that the bureau allows coal companies to expand their lease holdings by up to 960 acres without competitive bidding, the New York Times reports.

The office of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg now estimates that more than 800,000 residents will live in the city’s 100-year flood plain by the 2050s – more than double the last estimate of 398,000, the New York Times reports. The latest figures also estimate that many more businesses and jobs than previously thought are at risk from climate change.

The Senate passed a half-trillion-dollar farm bill that, among other things, would consolidate programs to protect environmentally sensitive land, while cutting spending on those programs. The House is due to take up its version of the bill this month, USA Today reports.

The environment and economy subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a meeting tomorrow on “Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act: Understanding its History and Reviewing its Impact.” Witnesses will include representatives from B&C Consortia Management, Charles M. Auer & Associates, Boron Specialties, the Government Accountability Office, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Breast Cancer Fund.

The Breast Cancer Fund is one of 15 health and environmental groups that is asking legislators to oppose the bipartisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which would updated TSCA. And 34 law professors and public interest lawyers warned that the bill could limit the EPA from issuing new rulesThe US Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers support the bill, as do the Environmental Defense Fund, the Humane Society and former EPA officials in charge of toxic chemicals, the Hill says.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s energy and power subcommittee will meet to discuss the fiscal year 2014 budget for the Department of Energy. Newly-installed secretary of energy Ernest Moniz will testify.

The FMC Corporation will begin cleanup expected to cost almost $57 million at its former elemental phosphorus facility near Pocatello, Idaho, under a Unilateral Administrative Order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Principal concerns at the facility within the Eastern Michaud Flats Superfund Site include arsenic, elemental phosphorous and gamma radiation.

The EPA has given final approval to an air permit for the construction and operation of a 77 MW solid waste facility, owned by Energy Answers Arecibo, at the former site of Global Fibers Paper Mill in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Several operating, monitoring and reporting requirements in the permit are more stringent than originally proposed, the agency says – for example, the final permit contains requirements for more frequent dioxin and furan emission testing.

The EPA issued a Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order to Hampton Manufacturing, to stop the sale of “Antibacterial H-42 Clean Clippers,” a pesticide used to kill bacteria and HIV-1 (the AIDS virus) on cutting tools such as clipper blades, shears and manicure implements. Testing revealed that the pesticide contained less than the stated amount of the active ingredient, the EPA said.

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