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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Drilling Authority, Wind Leases, $1.7M Pesticide Penalty

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court stuck down parts of a law that removed some of municipalities’ authority to dictate where natural gas drilling can occur. The rules had yet to go into effect, the New York Times reports.

The Department of the Interior has proposed to auction for commercial wind energy development, via two leases, nearly 80,000 acres about 10 nautical miles offshore Maryland. The DOI says the Maryland Wind Energy Area could support 850-1450 MW of wind power.

Twenty-one Republicans from the House Science Committee wrote to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to argue that the agency had “muzzled” dissenting members of an independent board designed to check the EPA’s science. The agency’s actions had a particular effect on development of its greenhouse gas emissions standards for new power plants, the congressmen argued, according to The Hill.

Former EPA official John Beale, who pleaded guilty in September to cheating the US government out of almost $900,000 in pay and benefits for work he didn’t perform, has been sentenced to serve 32 months in federal prison and pay $1.3 million in restitution and forfeiture, NBC News investigates. Beale excused his absences by falsely claiming he was on missions for the CIA. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the case shows “a massive problem with the EPA” and called for further investigations into the agency.

House Natural Resources Committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) unveiled a draft proposal to reauthorize and implement reforms to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which governs the recreational and commercial harvest of fisheries in federal waters. The act was last authorized by Congress in 2006 through fiscal year 2013.

Pesticide producer Harrell’s LLC has agreed to pay $1,736,560 in civil penalties for allegedly distributing and selling misbranded pesticides, and other violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The agency alleged that Harrell’s distributed pesticides without labels or with illegible labels, and sold pesticides in violation of a prior “stop sale” order by the EPA.

Paint manufacturer C & C Ventures, also known as Randolph Products, has agreed to pay a penalty of $153,917 to resolve EPA claims that it violated federal hazardous waste laws. The company’s violations included failure to properly identify hazardous wastes; failure to properly label and store hazardous waste containers; and failure to train personnel who manage hazardous waste, the EPA said.

Wilbur-Ellis will pay $62,080 in civil penalties and Helena Chemical must pay $12,800, after the two agricultural products companies improperly stored and contained pesticides regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the EPA said. Investigations found cracks in floors and walls, poor labeling and recordkeeping and poor equipment safeguards.

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