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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: GOP’s EPA Budget, Wind Leases, Shippers to Pay $10 Million

Republicans in the House have proposed prohibiting the Obama administration from spending on greenhouse gas rules for power plants, Business Week reports. The GOP congressmen also proposed cutting the EPA budget by a third, or $2.8 billion, and banning the EPA from instituting new curbs on sulfur in gasoline and on power plants’ water use.

A federal court yesterday rejected arguments that the current primary standard for ozone is either too weak or too strong, in a defeat for both environmental groups and business interests. More details available in this editor’s note.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold its second competitive lease sale for offshore wind energy on September 4, covering nearly 112,800 acres offshore Virginia, with the potential to support over 2,000 MW. The first offshore wind lease auction, covering an area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts, will be held July 31.

San Antonio Water System has agreed to pay a $2.6 million civil penalty and spend about $1.1 billion on significant upgrades to resolve Clean Water Act violations stemming from about 2,200 illegal discharges of raw sewage between 2006 and 2012, the EPA said. The state of Texas is a co-plaintiff and will receive half the penalty.

Lafarge North America has agreed to fund $1.5 million in projects to reduce air pollution in the community surrounding its Ravena, New York cement plant, under an agreement with the federal and New York governments. A March 2010 settlement between the federal government and Lafarge, involving cement plants in 13 states, required the company to pay a civil penalty of more than $5 million and install controls on or replace two old, inefficient kilns at Ravena by January 2015. The new agreement extends this to July 2016, and commits Lafarge to interim air pollution limits at the existing kilns.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection at Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station near Richland, Wash., to review a problem with a large heat exchanger that provides cool air to a room housing electrical circuit breakers and safety-related batteries. The NRC says that during a recent inspection, the licensee discovered that the heat exchanger had not been properly maintained, reducing its capability.

Columbia Shipmanagement Gmbh of Germany and Columbia Shipmanagement Ltd of Cyprus – both subsidiaries of Schoeller Holdings Ltd. – were ordered by a US court yesterday to pay a $10.4 million penalty and were given four years’ probation for illegally dumping oil-tainted bilge water, Reuters reports. The charges relate to three oil tankers and one container ship. In March, the companies pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, making false statements and failing to maintain accurate oil record books.

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