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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Oil by Rail, Free Trade Deal, Arctic Drilling

The US National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada yesterday issued recommendations for crude oil transportation by rail. They proposed that rail carriers develop spill-response plans and avoid highly populated areas. Such transportation has come under increasing pressure after a series of derailments and fires. Last week railroad executives met with US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and pledged to review safety procedures within 30 days, the New York Times said.

The US, EU, China, Japan and other major economies committed yesterday to seek global free trade for environmental goods, though they said their agreement would only take effect once it gained sign-on from a critical mass of World Trade Organization members. US trade representative Michael Froman said the countries would have to consult with lawmakers, including the US Congress, before negotiations could begin, Reuters reported.

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Interior Department’s review of 2008 Arctic offshore drilling leases was unsound, The Hill reports. The court said the Interior used too low an estimate of how much oil could be recovered from the Chukchi Sea. The department must now reexamine all its 2008 lease sales, though the court didn’t say whether companies could continue with drilling on their existing leases.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity has published a report arguing that the benefits of carbon are 50 to 500 times greater than the “social cost” metric used by the Obama administration. ACCCE says energy from fossil fuels has more than doubled life expectancy over the past two centuries, The Hill reports.

A federal grand jury in Las Vegas has indicted James Jariv of Las Vegas and Nathan Stoliar of Australia over allegations that they generated about $7 million in fraudulent renewable identification numbers through two companies, City Farm Biofuel and Global E Marketing. The 57-count indictment includes counts of false statements under the Clean Air Act, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Green Car Congress reports.

Superior Forge & Steel Corporation will pay a $61,673 penalty to settle alleged violations of toxic chemical reporting requirements at its forged steel production plants in New Castle, Pa., and Pittsburgh. EPA cited the company for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, saying the company did not submit timely annual reports for chromium and lead.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is delaying publication of its final rule on extended storage of spent nuclear fuel at commercial nuclear power plants, from September to October 3, due to time lost during the government shutdown and appropriations gap last October.

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