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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Carbon Standards, Pipeline Closure, Dyno Nobel Penalty

The EPA has rescheduled two delayed listening sessions on its forthcoming carbon standards for existing power plants. The Boston session has been rescheduled for November 4, and the Philadelphia session has been pushed back to November 8. Both were postponed because of the government shutdown. The other nine dates are unchanged.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced support for “backloading,” the method of propping up European carbon prices by temporarily withholding some surplus allowances. Carbon and power markets both rose in response, as Merkel’s statement makes passage of the plan more likely. But there are still some uncertainties, as the chancellor forms a new governing coalition for Germany, Reuters reported.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that Enterprise Product Partners’ closure of a distillates pipeline between the Gulf Coast and Midwest was illegal, because it broke an agreement with shippers signed earlier this year. FedEx joined two airlines, fuel marketers and small shippers in battling the closure, saying it would either cause shortages of diesel and jet fuel, or substantially raise prices. FERC said it can order damages but cannot force the pipeline to be reopened, Reuters reported.

Refining industry trade group the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers has started lobbying on the social cost of carbon, a metric of carbon emissions’ economic effects. The AFPM joins a growing number of coal and oil groups lobbying on the estimate, which the Obama administration raised this year, the Hill reports.

Palm oil producer Wilmar International is still trying to reverse a preliminary EPA finding, made in 2012, that biofuels from palm oil don’t meet the carbon standards of the federal biofuels mandate, the Hill reports. Wilmar paid $20,000 to lobby on the issue in Q3. Meanwhile the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, the Indonesian Palm Oil Board and Neste Oil have stopped using the lobbying group Holland & Knight.

Dyno Nobel has agreed to pay a $257,167 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act at its facilities in Louisiana, Mo., and Carthage, Mo. The EPA says Dyno Nobel’s risk management programs did not fully comply with regulations, and the company failed to immediately notify authorities about a sulfuric acid release. The company settled a similar case with the EPA in 2011 for $110,900.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has fined MIT $15,000 for violations in the monitoring of emissions from its natural gas-fired William R. Dickson cogeneration facility, student paper The Tech reports. MassDEP found that the plant was emitting too much carbon monoxide, and its monitoring systems for that substance and nitrogen oxides had too much downtime.

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