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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: DOE ‘Mishandled Waste,’ Energy Trust on Ice

The Department of Energy mishandled dangerous waste, placing it in a landfill before treating it – rather than after, as required –  and operating several waste storage units without proper permit authorization, according to a settlement with the EPA. An agency statement referred to a dangerous mix of hazardous and nuclear waste, although it wasn’t clear if all the alleged violations related to this mix. In the settlement, the DOE agreed to close at least eight dangerous waste storage units, improve waste handling practices and pay $136,000.

President Obama’s idea for a $2 billion Energy Security Trust, proposed in January’s State of the Union address, appears to be on ice. The plan was to use offshore drilling revenue to fund research into alternative vehicles and fuels. But Republican leaders say they haven’t heard much about it since, and Obama didn’t mention the idea in his climate plan last week, the Hill reports. Energy secretary Ernest Moniz, however, said last month that the White House still backs the plan.

The Energy Department is accepting comments on $8 billion in proposed loan guarantees that figured in President Obama’s climate agenda, announced last week. The DOE money would finance projects that cut carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and extraction. The department expects to finalize its application request this fall, the Hill reports.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman is leading 15 cities and states to urge the EPA to act more quickly on Tier 3 motor vehicle and fuel standards, proposed in March. The state and local governments are pressing the EPA to finalize the rule on schedule, by the end of 2013.

The Department of Energy has issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice of final rule regarding test procedures for residential furnaces and boilers. The rulemaking would adopt needed equations that were omitted from the relevant industry standard, the agency says. The procedures are effective 30 days after publication in the register.

The DOE has also issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking regarding test procedures for residential refrigerators and freezers. The department says the changes would address products with multiple compressors, allow an alternative method for measuring and calculating energy consumption, and ensure better test accuracy and repeatability.

The Kansas Department of Transportation agreed to pay a $477,500 civil penalty to settle hundreds of alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at three road construction sites near Lawrence, Manhattan, and Pleasanton, the EPA said. The agency alleges that KDOT failed to install adequate stormwater control measures. As part of the settlement, KDOT must designate a stormwater compliance manager for each site and submit to third-party inspections.

Belden and Blake Corporation will pay a $42,504 penalty to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations at its natural gas liquid extraction plant in Bradford, Pa., the EPA said. The agency alleged that the company failed to comply with regulations intended to prevent accidental releases of flammable substances.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has updated its regulations with the licensing, inspection and annual fees it will charge in FY2013. Annual fees increased for spent fuel storage facilities, research and test reactors, fuel facilities, most material users, and uranium recovery facilities, while annual fees decreased for operating reactors and Department of Energy transportation activities.

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