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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chevron ‘Failure,’ BP Claims ‘Fraud, States Petition EPA

The EPA accused Chevron of 62 violations of federal environmental law, related to an August 2012 fire at a Richmond, Calif., refinery that released a huge gas cloud and sent thousands of people to the hospital. The agency called risk management at the facility “a pervasive failure,” saying the company failed to maintain refinery equipment and to respond adequately to airborne chemical releases, the AP reported.

Fifteen states have petitioned the EPA to ensure that its forthcoming carbon guidance on existing power plants is flexible and recognizes the states’ achievement in cutting emissions 20 percent from 2005 to 2011, Bloomberg reports. The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The European Commission will investigate about €5 billion ($6.9 billion) worth of green energy charge exemptions that Germany has made for around 2,000 heavy energy users, such as BASF and ThyssenKrupp. The EC is concerned that the exemptions may distort competition. At least one company said it is now reconsidering its investment in Germany, and some politicians said the probe could put renewables development on hold.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from offshore oil service companies, who said the Interior Department violated a judge’s order blocking a temporary ban on deep-water drilling after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the AP says.

In Federal District Court in New Orleans, BP accused lawyer Mikal Watts of “brazen fraud,” saying Watts claimed to represent thousands of Gulf of Mexico oil spill victims who turned out to be “phantoms.” BP says it relied on Watts’ numbers when it put $2.3 billion into a seafood industry compensation fund, and it is now seeking to reclaim some of the money, the New York Times reports.

The federal review of chemical safety regulations that President Obama ordered in response to April’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, is more than a month overdue, the Hill reports. The EPA had said it was extending the deadline from November 1 to early December because of the government shutdown, and now it says it hopes to “have an update soon.”

A group of 25 Democratic senators urged finance committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to help renew clean-energy tax credits, including incentives for offshore wind and clean vehicles, due to expire at the end of the year. Meanwhile Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) led a mostly Republican group of eight senators in urging Baucus not to renew the wind Production Tax Credit, the Hill reports.

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