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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Carbon Standards, Duke Energy Order, Alpha Fine, Efficiency Bill

The EPA has extended the public comment period on its carbon standards for new power plants, and on the February 26, 2014, notice of data availability soliciting comment on Energy Act provisions, by 60 days to May 9.

Judge Paul Ridgeway of Wake County Superior Court in North Carolina ordered Duke Energy to act immediately to eliminate sources of groundwater contamination at its coal ash dumps, the New York Times reports. Ridgeway said state regulators had failed to properly apply state law. His ruling addressed a complaint filed in 2012, before a major Duke Energy spill into the Dan River. 

Alpha Natural Resources and 66 of its subsidiaries including the former Massey Energy will pay the largest civil penalty ever under the Clean Water Act, $27.5 million, and will spend $200 million to reduce pollution from coal mines in five states, under a consent decree announced by the EPA and Justice Department on Wednesday. The penalty is for more than 6,000 violations from 2006 to 2013, the New York Times reports.

The House on Wednesday approved HR 2126, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, by a vote of 375 to 36. Backers described the legislation as using a market-driven and voluntary approach to encourage energy and costs savings. The bill combines four measures authored by Energy and Commerce Committee members: Title I, Better Buildings; Title II, Grid-Enabled Water Heaters; Title III, Energy Efficient Government Technology; and Title IV, Energy Information for Commercial Buildings. Co-author Peter Welch (D-Vt.) believe the bill can be combined with the Shaheen-Portman efficiency legislation, The Hill reports.

The Energy Department announced $10 million in funding to help demonstrate and deploy energy efficiency technologies for commercial buildings, including performance testing in real buildings, and projects designed to bring next-generation building systems and components to a broader market faster. Covered technologies include sub-metering, plug load strategies, open refrigerated display case retrofits, daylighting, shading, advanced compressor rack and refrigerant systems, and retro-commissioning strategies and technologies.

The House on Thursday approved HR 2641, the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act, or the RAPID Act, which would set deadlines on NEPA reviews. The measure passed by a 229-179 vote, The Hill reports.

The House yesterday passed HR 3826,  the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, 229-183, The Hill reports. The bill would override EPA carbon standards for new power plants, and would require Congress to set an effective date for its upcoming rules on existing power plants. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy has said the agency plans to release those rules by June.

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