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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Carbon Standards Inquiry, Water Rights Act, Duke Coal Ash

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced an investigation into the EPA’s carbon limits on new coal-fired power plants. Republicans on the committee asked Gina McCarthy for information, particularly on how the agency approached the issue of carbon capture technology, The Hill reports.

The Waterkeeper Alliance says it has photos showing that Duke Energy is deliberately pumping coal ash wastewater from ponds at its closed Cape Fear plant into a canal that feeds into the Cape Fear River, a source of drinking water. State regulators say they are investigating the allegations, which come just weeks after the company’s 39,000 coal ash spill, the subject of state and federal investigations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The House approved H.R. 3189, the Water Rights Protection Act, 238-174. Backers say the bill protects private property rights from federal overreach that threatens to take water supplies from recreation businesses, ranchers, cities and towns, and local conservation efforts.

The EPA and BP reached an agreement to end, with immediate effect, a ban on BP doing business with the federal government. The agency put the debarment in place in November 2012, following the company’s guilty plea in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The agreement specifies provisions on ethics compliance, corporate governance and process safety, and BP must retain an independent auditor who will conduct annual reviews.

US District Court judge Reggie Walton ordered the government to review claims that the proposed Cape Wind project could pose risks to birds and the endangered North Atlantic right whale, but rejected several arguments by opponents of the wind farm. Both sides claimed victory after the ruling, CBS Boston reports.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced a bill that would require the the Interior and Agriculture Departments to issue permits for most gas pipelines within 60 days, in an effort to curb gas flaring, The Hill reports.

Exxon Mobil is seeking permission from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to restart a 210-mile Texas stretch of its Pegasus oil pipeline, a leg that the company says was not affected by a leak in Arkansas in March 2013, Reuters reports.

A US District Court judge in Seattle on Wednesday allowed seven environmental groups to proceed with their lawsuit against BNSF Railway, which the groups say violated federal law by allowing coal dust and other pollutants to spill into protected waterways.

The US and EU will seek to present a united front on the fight to tackle climate change at a meeting in Brussels this month. But their guarded language will disappoint those looking for ambitious pledges, Reuters reports.

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