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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Drug Disposal, HFCs, Climate Hearing

The King County, Wash., board of health passed a law requiring that pharmaceutical companies pay for the disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medicines – only the second such municipal ordinance in the country. Alameda County, Calif., passed drug disposal regulations in July 2012, Waste & Recycling News reports.

The USDA is considering what action, if any, it might take in the case of a Washington state farmer who found his alfalfa crop was contaminated with a genetically modified trait developed by Monsanto, Reuters reported. State agriculture officials said the level of contamination was within a range acceptable to much of the market, but many foreign and domestic buyers require zero genetic modification.

Brazil, South Africa and China have sided with India against a US push to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The four countries, known as the BASIC group, say they cannot accept such a proposal unless there is a cost-effective and environmentally sound alternative – and Indian environment and forests ministry additional secretary Susheel Kumar said there is currently no such alternative.

The Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is holding a hearing today on “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities,” with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and energy secretary Ernest Moniz as witnesses. The subcommittee says 11 federal agencies, including the departments of agriculture, defense and interior, declined to provide a witness.

The EPA proposed doubling penalties for non-compliance, in a revised consent decree against Lake Michigan Carferry, operator of the last coal-fired vessel operating on the Great Lakes. The agency has proposed that LMC stop discharging coal ash from the S.S. Badger at the end of the 2014 sailing season, and revised its consent decree in response to almost 8,000 public comments. The EPA also proposed that LMC pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury water quality standards in 2012.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s environment and economy subpanel will hold a hearing this afternoon on “Regulation of Existing Chemicals and the Role of Pre-Emption under Sections 6 and 18 of the Toxic Substances Control Act.” Witnesses are to include representatives of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Environmental Council of the States, Latham & Watkins LLP, and the New York attorney general’s office. A background memo is available.

Tomorrow, the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s subpanel on commerce, manufacturing and trade will hold a hearing on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline titled “Keystone’s Red Tape Anniversary: Five Years of Bureaucratic Delay and Economic Benefits Denied.” Scheduled witnesses include representatives of the US Chamber of Commerce, Energy Policy Research Foundation and Natural Resources Defense Council.

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