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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Public Lands Act, Emergency Water Act, Coal Ash Spill

The House of Representatives approved HR 2954, “The Public Access and Lands Improvement Act” by a vote of 220-194.  The package of bills would protect and promote access to lands; improve opportunities by removing red tape that stands in the way of responsible, local economic development and jobs; and encourage transparent, community-centered land management, according to the House Natural Resources Committee.

The House of Representatives approved HR 3964, “The Sacramento – San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act,” by a vote of 229- 191. This legislation, according to the House Natural Resources Committee, addresses the emergency drought in California by restoring some water supplies to provide job certainty to farmers and communities.

As many as 82,000 tons of ash have spilled into a river after a pipe break at a retired Duke Energy coal plant in North Carolina, and state environmental officials plan to release test results that gauge hazards to water quality. The company said a stormwater pipe under a 27-acre ash pond broke. No immediate threat to drinking water was reported.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) sent a letter to the Energy Information Administration on Thursday, asking that a “comprehensive” study begin on possible impacts of lifting the nation’s decades-old crude oil export ban and how that might affect gas prices, The Hill reports.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he backs building the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it a “win-win” project, adding it could be built safely, with the right conditions, The Hill reports.

Federal regulators fined three companies for mislabeling the type of crude oil they were transporting. The penalties — a total of $93,000 — were the first from surprise inspections begun since a series of accidents in the last year underscored the hazard of transporting highly flammable oil by rail. Inspectors from the Transportation Department started conducting random tests last summer to ensure that producers, shippers and railroad companies properly labeled oil from the Bakken shale region of North Dakota.

A federal judge ordered Citgo Petroleum Corp to pay more than $2 million for violations of US environmental laws over toxic emissions at the company’s refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, from 1994 to 2003. A jury convicted Citgo of illegally operating two tanks at its Corpus Christi refinery in 2007 following a three-week trial, Reuters reports.

The federal coal leasing program run by the Bureau of Land Management operates without sufficient oversight or a consistent means of ensuring that fair prices are paid for the leases, a report compiled by the Government Accountability Office said, according to the New York Times.

Plans to introduce a 5p charge for plastic bags in England are a “complete mess,” an influential committee of MPs has said, the Grocer reports.

The EPA is establishing new requirements that will authorize the use of electronic manifests (or e-Manifests) as a means to track off-site shipments of hazardous waste from a generator’s site to the site of the receipt and disposition of the hazardous waste. This final rule also implements certain provisions of the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act, which directs EPA to establish a national electronic manifest system, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

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