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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Refinery Controls, Ex-EPA Official Charged

John C. Beale, a former deputy assistant administrator in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, was charged Friday with stealing $886,186 from the agency between 2000 and April 2013. If convicted, Beale faces up to 10 years in prison, the Washington Post reports. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called for a congressional investigation, saying the charges were indicative of a pattern of corruption, the Hill reports.

Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and John Shimkus (R-IL), the heads of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its environment and economy sub-panel, have asked Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Allison Macfarlane to appear at a hearing in September, to answer questions about the agency’s deliberations on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. A federal appeals court last week ordered the NRC to continue its review of the Nevada site, the Hill reports.

The Interior and Energy departments have signed a memorandum of collaboration aimed at increasing deployment of better safety technologies and practices in the offshore oil and gas industry. The agreement will also guide Department of Energy research and development, and will implement recommendations stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill, the Hill said.

The State Department’s Office of Inspector General said it will need until January to complete a review of contract of interest allegations, related to the department’s review of the Keystone XL pipeline. This may mean that State will not finalize its decision on the project until 2014.

Big West Oil has agreed to spend about $18 million on emission controls at its North Salt Lake, Utah refinery, pay a $175,000 penalty and invest $253,000 to improve monitoring and management of potential hydrofluoric acid releases, to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations including some related to Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements and New Source Performance Standards. The upgrades will reduce SO2 emissions by about 158 tons a year, NOx by about 32 tons and particulate matter by about 36 tons, the EPA says.

The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to complete ten “Tier 1” actions by November 30, including changes to its corrective action program, safety system reliability plan and work management process, at its Browns Ferry nuclear plant near Athens, Ala. The TVA has also agreed to longer-term actions to be completed by December 2014. A Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection at the plant resulted in a “red” level finding of high safety significance, due to a failure of a low-pressure coolant injection valve in 2010.

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