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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Railroad Shipments, Tank Removal, Committee Hearings

Lawmakers are calling for a review of rules that that apply to rail shipments of crude oil  after several recent rail accidents. Safety regulators have warned that inaction could lead to a “major loss of life.” Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enact more stringent rules for oil-by-rail shipments, in the wake of a December derailment in their home state that spilled 400,000 tons of crude oil, The Hill reports.

Freedom Industries has agreed to dismantle and remove 17 tanks and related equipment at its coal processing plant in Charleston, West Virginia after an order by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.  The company’s storage tank spilled a chemical that tainted the water supply of 300,000 people. A consent order signed by the company’s president and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection says the tanks must be removed by March 15.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee  has scheduled a markup on HR 3826, the “Electricity Security and Affordability Act,” which requires the administrator of the EPA may not issue, implement, or enforce any proposed or final rule under section 111 of the Clean Air Act that establishes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for new fossil fuel-fired generators; and HR 2126, the “Better Buildings Act of 2013.” The bill facilitates better alignment, cooperation, and best practices between commercial real estate landlords and tenants regarding energy efficiency.

The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources will hold a full committee hearing on the Critical Minerals Act of 2013. Witnesses will include David T. Danielson, assistant secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy, and Larry Meinert, mineral resources program coordinator at the US Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior.

Biologists examined the carcasses of 25 dead pilot whales found off the coast of southwest Florida, collecting samples from the animals to try to determine the cause of a recent spike in whale deaths. Wildlife officials completed necropsies on six whales among the group of 16 females and 9 males a day after they were spotted by boaters near Kice Island, Florida, Reuters reports.

Beijing’s mayor pledged to cut coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and set aside 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) this year as part of an “all-out effort” to tackle air pollution, state news agency Xinhua said. The capital was blanketed in its worst smog in months. An index measuring PM2.5 particles reached 500 in much of the capital in the early hours. The EPA considers a level above 300 hazardous.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a correction to the Small Generator Interconnection Agreements and Procedures rule that was published on Dec. 5, 2013. The errata notice serves to correct references to small generator interconnection procedures (SGIP) section numbers in the order and the pro forma SGIP, and to make other typographical corrections.

The public comment period the framework document regarding energy conservation standards for general service lamps (GSLs) has been extended to February 7, 2014. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has requested a 2-week extension of the comment period, stating that it needs additional time to fully evaluate the framework document, its scope and definitions.


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