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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Oil Safety Alert, BNSF Suit, GSA Seeks Industry Input

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a safety alert in response to last week’s oil train derailment and fire near Casselton, N.D., warning that crude oil from the state’s Bakken formation may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude, The Hill reported. The region’s light sweet crude oil has a burning point below 73 F, the agency warned.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Friday that the House could hold a final vote on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act this month, The Hill reports. The bill would authorize about $8 billion worth of water infrastructure projects. Congressmen and senators have been negotiating on a compromise bill since the House passed its version in October.

Senior US District Judge Lonny Suko on Thursday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that the Sierra Club and other groups filed against BNSF, charging that the company’s trains were discharging coal dust into Washington waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act, the Bellingham Herald reports. Plaintiffs also include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

US Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement granted BP’s request for fast-track consideration for the company’s effort to stop Gulf of Mexico economic-loss payments that cannot be shown as linked to the spill, Bloomberg reports. BP said US District Judge Carl Barbier had ignored an earlier decision requiring him to examine causation.

The General Services Administration is seeking industry feedback to help the agency develop a government-wide Building Maintenance and Operations services program, potentially covering HVAC, waste management, janitorial services, grounds maintenance, utilities and other services. GSA seeks recommendations about how savings can be measured and achieved, either by demand management strategies, better acquisition or improved performance management. The response period will close on January 17, and the agency will host an “Industry Day” next month.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published draft guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal species under NOAA’s jurisdiction. The guidance provides updated received levels, or thresholds, above which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity (either temporary or permanent) for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources. NOAA is soliciting public comment on the draft guidance.

The EPA has issued a final rule establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of dimethyl esters of glutaric acid (i.e., dimethyl glutarate), succinic acid (i.e., dimethyl succinate), and adipic acid (i.e., dimethyl adipate), when used as inert ingredients (as solvents/co-solvents) in pesticide formulations applied to growing crops and raw agricultural commodities after harvest. Consultants SciReg petitioned for the exemption on behalf of chemical company Rhodia.

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