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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Power Plant Rules, Enviro Regulator ‘Forced Out’

The EPA plans to force utilities to limit emissions of hazardous pollutants during power plant shut-down, start-up and malfunctioning. Environmental groups are pressuring the agency to finalize the rule, which is due by September 26, the Hill reports.

The Government Accountability Office has agreed to three Republican lawmakers’ request that it examine how the Obama administration calculated the social cost of carbon. By raising the cost from $21 to $35 per metric ton, the administration dramatically increased estimated benefits from new pollution rules, the Hill reports.

The Department of the Interior has criticized the State Department’s finding that the Keystone XL pipeline would have only temporary effects on wildlife, calling the conclusion “inaccurate.” The letter from the Interior’s Office of Environmental Protection and Compliance was dated April 29 but posted to the department’s website on August 15, the Guardian reports.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said yesterday that radioactive water is leaking from a storage tank at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, escalating the crisis to its worst level since it began over two years ago, Reuters reports. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said it plans to raise the severity rating for the crisis from level 1 to level 3, and neighboring China urged Japan to provide timely, accurate information about the leaks.

George Elmaraghy, the chief of the surface water division at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, says governor John Kasich forced him to resign because of pressure from the coal industry. In an email, Elmaraghy said that the industry has demanded that the agency issue permits that may adversely impact Ohio waterways and violate federal and state laws, the Huffington Post reports.

The Justice Department is examining whether JP Morgan Chase manipulated US energy markets, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last month the company reached an agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, agreeing to pay $410 million in penalties and disgorgement to ratepayers for alleged market manipulation.

The US Geological Survey plans to create a climate change vulnerability registry, showing information on adaptation projects across the country. The agency hopes the registry will improve protections for wildlife, ecosystems and dams, the Hill reports.

The Department of Agriculture has announced funding for 631 projects aimed at helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses to reduce their energy consumption and use renewable energy in their operations. The $21 million in grant and loan funding will be made through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

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