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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: SCOTUS Hearing, Oil Train Safety, GHG Reporting Rule

The Obama administration’s climate agenda faces its first Supreme Court test today, Reuters reports. The court will consider whether the EPA’s regulation of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions automatically triggers a requirement that large stationary sources such as power plants also control their emissions, Dorsey & Whitney partner and former Department of Justice official Thomas Lorenzen says. A decision is expected by the end of June, Reuters reports.

The Department of Transportation says major railroads have agreed to eight voluntary safety measures for trains carrying oil, instituted in the wake of a series of derailments and explosions. The measures include lower speed limits in some cities, more track inspections, more brakes on trains and improved training for emergency medical workers, the New York Times reports.

The EPA has proposed amending subpart W of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, including revisions to certain calculation methods, monitoring and data reporting requirements, terms and definitions. It is also proposing confidentiality determinations for new or substantially revised data elements contained in these proposed amendments, and a revised confidentiality determination for one existing data element.

Judges on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are skeptical of an industry challenge to the standards for fine particulates, E&E Publishing reports. The National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce and other groups are trying to vacate the EPA’s decision, about a year ago, to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standard from 15 to 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved controls on emissions, including methane, from oil and natural gas operations. Anadarko Petroleum, Noble Energy and Encana worked with the Environmental Defense Fund to help write the regulations, Bloomberg reports.

The New York State Public Service Commission unanimously approved an order requiring Con Edison to implement “state-of-the-art measures” to plan for and protect its electric, gas, and steam systems from the effects of climate change, the Environmental Defense Fund says. The commission also decided to essentially freeze electricity rates for residential and business customers, NY1 reports.

Ohio governor John Kasich now opposes fracking on public lands, less than three years after signing legislation that opened up state parks and forests to the drilling technique, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

A federal judge in Waco, Texas will start hearing arguments from the Sierra Club, which says a Luminant Generation Company coal plant in East Texas has been emitting more pollution than is permitted. It is one of at least three cases this year in which environmental groups in Texas have sued oil companies or utilities directly, the Texas Tribune reports. The Sierra Club joined with Environment Texas to sue ExxonMobil, and has another case against Luminant that will begin in Texarkana later this year.

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