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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Federal Buildings, Water Trading, Carbon Standards

The Obama administration will extend, through 2016, its 2011 executive order targeting $2 billion in energy savings from federal buildings. The order was due to expire at the end of this year, and congressmen from both parties had called on the president to grant a five-year extension. Early next year, the DOE and other agencies will discuss how to enact the order, The Hill reports.

The EPA and Department of Agriculture have announced a partnership to expand support for water quality trading and other market-based water management approaches, to create a new pathway towards regulatory compliance while helping farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom line. The two agencies say they will coordinate policies and programs to support states, interstate agencies and tribes as they develop and implement water quality trading programs.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy has promised that the agency will be “really flexible on the implementation” of carbon emissions guidelines for existing power plants. But officials from Virginia and Oklahoma expressed skepticism about the supposed flexibility, The Daily Caller reports.

White House Council on Environmental Quality chairman Nancy Sutley will step down in February, Politico reports. Sutley oversaw environmental efforts including the launch of stricter fuel economy standards, the administration’s Climate Action Plan, and the nation’s first comprehensive ocean policy, President Obama said.

In a rare bipartisan vote, the House voted unanimously on Monday to override EPA guidance that would require all new fire hydrants to be lead-free starting next year, The Hill reports. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) drafted the bill in response to guidance issued October 22, which the EPA said was necessary because fire hydrants are used for drinking water in emergency situations. But Johnson said lead-free fire hydrants are not commercially available, and the ruling would cause an immediate shortage of hydrants.

The Energy and Power subpanel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow entitled, “Evaluating the Role of FERC in a Changing Energy Landscape.” Witnesses are scheduled to include acting FERC chairman Cheryl LaFleur as well as FERC commissioners Philip Moeller, John Norris and Tony Clark.

McCollum Enterprises, which operates a Twin Falls, Idaho commercial fish and frog farm, will pay $25,000 to settle with the EPA for over 550 violations of its discharge permit, including numerous releases of phosphorus-laden wastewater, the agency says. The EPA says the company’s releases polluted the Snake River.

The EPA is amending certain electronic reporting requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The agency is extending the TSCA section 5 electronic reporting requirements to Notice of Commencements and support documents (e.g., correspondence, amendments, and test data) submitted to EPA prior to April 6, 2010.

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