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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: IPCC Errors, Ethanol Promises, EPA at Hearings, Green No. 3

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has raised certain estimates of past greenhouse gas emissions, and lowered others, in revisions to its September report. But the IPCC said the errors did not make a significant difference to its overall findings. The IPCC now says 515 billion tons of carbon have been emitted since 1860-1881, down from its previous estimate of 531 billion, Reuters reports.

Ethanol has been far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised, an AP investigation found. Corn farmers wiped out millions of acres of conservation land – including five million while Obama has been president – and polluted water supplies, the news service said.

The energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will meet tomorrow to discuss proposed legislation, from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and the subpanel’s chairman, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), designed to pare back carbon standards for new power plants. Among its 10 witnesses, the panel will examine EPA acting administrator for air and radiation Janet McCabe, who will testify about the proposed standards.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing tomorrow on “Strengthening Transparency and Accountability within the Environmental Protection Agency.” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy is the only scheduled witness.

The House Natural Resources Committee is likely to approve Rep. Bill Johnson’s (R-OH) bill that would keep the Department of the Interior from adopting a stricter set of regulations on waste disposal from “mountaintop removal” coal mining. The department has been planning to rewrite the rule for years, the Hill writes.

The Senate Commerce Committee will vote on the nomination of Kathryn Sullivan to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Robert Simon to be associate director for environment and energy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Simon was Democratic staff director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Hill reports.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet Thursday to consider the nominations of Steven Croley to be the general counsel of the Department of Energy; Christopher A. Smith to be an assistant secretary of energy, for fossil energy; and Esther Kia’aina to be an assistant secretary of the interior, for insular areas. The hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website.

President Obama will nominate Treasury Department assistant secretary for financial stability Timothy Massad to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission when Gary Gensler steps down at the end of the year, the Hill reports. In his current role, Massad managed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Environmental groups have warned that trade talks between the US and EU, designed to forge the world’s biggest free-trade deal, would lower environmental standards. The US believes EU regulations on genetically modified food must be reduced, and Europe has already dropped prohibitions on certain US meat imports, Reuters says.

The New York City Council is considering requiring that about 8,300 private collection trucks, which dispose of commercial as well as construction waste, meet federal emissions standards for diesel trucks set by the EPA in 2007. The city already requires at least 90 percent of its own diesel-powered fleet to meet the standards by 2017, and under the proposal, privately owned garbage and recycling trucks would have to meet the standards by 2020.

Residues of FD&C Green No. 3 will not have a maximum permissible level to comply with, after the EPA granted an exemption, applicable when the chemical is used as a dye in antimicrobial formulations, for use on food contact surfaces in public eating places, dairy processing equipment, and food processing equipment and utensils. The firm Exponent, on behalf of Ecolab, petitioned to EPA for the exemption, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The EPA has designated, in accordance with 40 CFR Part 53, five new equivalent methods for measuring pollutant concentrations: one for measuring concentrations of PM 10, one for measuring concentrations of PM 10-2.5, two for measuring PM 2.5, and one for measuring NO2 in the ambient air.

The EPA said it will pause development of the draft Quality Standards for Data Collection, Production and Use by Non-EPA (External) Organizations, because of comments received from external and internal stakeholders. The pause will allow the EPA to integrate EPA Order 5360.1, EPA Quality Manual and draft Quality Standards.

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