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Watts Bar 1

Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Nuclear and Hydro Approval, Ozone Standards

Watts Bar 1The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded that there are no environmental impacts would preclude issuing an operating license for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s under-construction, 1,150 MW Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor near Spring City, Tenn. The NRC continues its safety review of the license application, and expects to update its Final Safety Evaluation Report on Unit 2 in May 2014. (Watts Bar 1 is pictured, above.)

As part of its bipartisan review of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the fourth in a series of white papers examining issues with the current system. The latest white paper addresses the RFS’s role in enhancing energy security, among other issues.

The European Commission proposed setting the quota for international carbon credits at the lowest level allowed by law, Bloomberg reports. Between 2008 and 2020, participants in the continent’s Emissions Trading System will be able to use UN credits totalling up to 11 percent of the EU permits granted to them for free in 2008-2012, according to the draft regulations. The plan still needs approval from national officials on the Climate Change Committee, followed by the European Parliament and EU ministers.

The House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on the environment will meet Wednesday to debate whether expected EPA ozone standards are achievable, the Hill reports. Industry groups have said the planned rule is too burdensome.

On Tuesday, a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on public-private partnerships for ocean monitoring, including research into acidification and the Arctic, The Hill reports. Director James Cameron, pilot of the Deepsea Challenger vessel, will be among the witnesses.

North Carolina is one of several states considering fees for hybrid and electric cars, to make up for the associated loss in gas-tax revenue. Senators there approved annual registration fees of $100 for EVs and $50 for hybrids, though the provision must survive budget negotiations with the House, the Associated Press reports.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recommended the relicensing of Alabama Power’s 182.5 MW Martin Dam Hydroelectric Project in Tallapoosa, Coosa, and Elmore Counties, Alabama. But FERC rejected the utility’s proposed increase in the winter flood pool elevation, saying the reduction in flood storage would result in an increase in flood elevation downstream of the project. 

Kinder Morgan will pay up to $220,000 in penalties for environmental violations ranging from spills and improper waste storage to paperwork violations, related to carbon dioxide wells between Cortez and Dove Creek in Colorado. The state says it was not notified in writing before the company started building a drilling waste pit, and says the wells disturbed more land than their permit allowed, the AP reports, citing the Cortez Journal.

The Defense Department‘s deputy assistant secretary for strategy, Daniel Chiu, said climate change is fundamentally changing how the DOD evaluates future conflict areas. Chiu said the Pentagon is focusing more on food and water scarcity and mass migration, and how these could spark conflict, the Hill reports.

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