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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Quebec Rail Crash, McCarthy Clears Hurdle

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) dropped plans to filibuster Gina McCarthy‘s nomination for EPA administrator, saying the agency has taken significant steps to address his transparency concerns, Reuters reports. Vitter is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Vitter said the EPA had committed to re-train its 17,000 employees on FOIA requests; agreed to issue new guidance on records maintenance and use of personal email accounts; had begun to obtain scientific information requested by Senate Republicans; taken steps to convene a panel of economic experts to review EPA modeling; and agreed to publish upon receipt, on two websites, any notices of intent to sue or petitions for rulemaking that the agency receives.

Meanwhile House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have written to EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe requesting information about the agency’s methodology for estimating the cost impacts of its rulemakings. The representatives said they are concerned that EPA analyses neglect economy-wide impacts and don’t fully consider effects on jobs. They set a July 24 deadline for the agency to respond.

The Canadian federal government is cutting funding for the country’s transportation regulator by almost 30 percent, the Montreal Gazette reports. The newspaper details the cuts in Transport Canada’s budget just days after a train carrying crude oil derailed in Quebec, killing 15, with at least 37 still missing – and the Gazette says train shipments of crude are expected to skyrocket in Canada.

Police said they had begun an investigation into the crash of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train, with criminal negligence one possible charge, and terrorism ruled out, USA Today reports. Edward Burkhardt, president and CEO of railway parent company Rail World, blamed the accident on “a combination of factors,” including the lack of an on-site engineer, the Montreal Gazette reported.

EPA active administrator Bob Perciasepe will meet today and tomorrow with leaders from Canada and Mexico for the 20th regular session of the Council for the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, to discuss greening transportation, adapting to climate change and addressing hazardous waste.

The first day of a strategic and economic summit between Chinese and US officials, to be held today, will include separate sessions on climate and energy security. Treasury secretary Jack Lew is scheduled to attend both sessions. Secretary of state John Kerry may leave Washington before the summit due to his wife’s illness.

Hercules Inc. will pay $2 million in penalties to settle alleged violations of its consent decree with the EPA, at the Resin Disposal Superfund Site in Jefferson Borough, Allegheny Co., Pa. The agency says the company failed to notify it about three uncontrolled releases of hazardous substances that bypassed the site’s treatment system, including one that resulted in the hospitalization of a worker and a four-day shut-down of the treatment plant. The 26-acre site includes a two-acre former landfill that received about 85,000 tons of industrial waste from 1949 to 1964. 

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