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Policy & Standards Briefing: EPA Fraudster, FERC Shutdown, Mattress Law

Former EPA official John Beale pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to cheating the US government out of almost $900,000 in pay and benefits for work he didn’t perform, while excusing his absences by falsely claiming he was on missions for the CIA. Beale has already repaid the money, but could face 37 months in prison and further fines.

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law requiring mattress manufacturers to create and maintain a mattress recycling program, to be financed with a fee from consumers at the point of sale. The legislation is similar to laws passed in Connecticut and Rhode Island earlier this year, according to the Product Stewardship Institute.

President Obama and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh agreed a partnership to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The agreement sets the stage for the formal discussions to take place under the Montreal Protocol next month in Bangkok, the Economic Times reports.

If Congress does not succeed in avoiding a government shut-down, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will furlough most of its 1,460 staff, retaining only 48 employees and 19 contractors. Essential activities to continue will include hydroelectric and liquefied natural gas project inspections, electric reliability monitoring, market monitoring and legal and enforcement matters, FERC said.

The second phase of BP’s trial over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is set to start today, to determine the amount that spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig. The government argues that 4.2 million barrels spilled over 87 days, but BP says the number was closer to 2.45 million barrels, the New York Times reports.

Europe will not accept a 2020 start for a market-based program to limit aviation emissions unless regional initiatives such as the EU emissions trading scheme can operate in the meantime, European commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard said. Delegates from over 190 countries are trying to work out an agreement at the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization‘s assembly in Montreal, and a deal could be close to completion by Wednesday, Reuters reported.

New York City’s air is the cleanest it’s been in over 50 years, mayor Michael Bloomberg said. He said the biggest cause was the city’s Clean Heat program, which phased out the most heavily polluting heating oils. Soot levels have dropped 23 percent since 2007, while sulfur dioxide has dropped 69 percent since 2008, Reuters reported.

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