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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Cooling Water, Mercury, SCOTUS Air Pollution Case

The Environmental Protection Agency said it will delay publication of its final cooling water intake rule for power plants and industrial facilities until Nov. 20, citing the government shutdown in October, Bloomberg BNA said. The agency was required by a 2010 legal agreement with environmental group Riverkeeper to issue the final rule by Nov. 4.

The US has become the first country to ratify the Minamata Convention, which aims to bring down mercury emissions, and must be ratified by 50 countries to take effect. The convention addresses mercury mining, export, import and storage, and provides for controls across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted, the UN says.

Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming have filed a friend of the court brief with the US Supreme Court to oppose the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. They say the EPA did not have the authority to issue the rules, and want the justices to uphold last year’s DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down the regulations. SCOTUS plans to hear oral arguments on the case December 10, The Hill reports.

A leaked 29-page draft report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due for publication in March, puts “unprecedented emphasis” on climate change risks, Reuters says. This could help make the policy case for climate change reductions as a sort of global insurance policy, as delegates head into preparatory talks starting in Warsaw on Monday.

The UK has paid £16 million ($25.7 million) to date to 17 companies, including Tata Steel, Celsa Steel and Ineos Chlor Vinyls, to compensate them for the indirect costs for the EU Emissions Trading System, Reuters reports.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is proposing more than $2.6 million in fines against ExxonMobil and is citing the company for nine probable violations, related to March’s oil spill in Mayflower, Ark. A company spokesman said the agency’s analysis appeared flawed, the New York Times reports.

Voters in the Colorado cities of Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette approved anti-fracking initiatives by wide margins this week, while Broomfield, Colo., defeated a proposal for a five-year fracking moratorium, the New York Times reports. Voters in Oberlin, Ohio approved a fracking ban while those in Youngstown and Bowling Green, Ohio defeated similar initiatives.

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