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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Sulfur in Gasoline, Pebble Mine, Refrigerator Efficiency

The EPA plans to unveil major regulations today to force oil refiners to remove sulfur from gasoline blends, a rule that President Obama asked for in 2010, the New York Times reports. The agency says the cleaner gasoline would contribute $6.7 billion to $19 billion a year in economic benefits, while raising the cost of gasoline by about two-thirds of one cent per gallon, but oil refiners say it will raise gas prices by up to 9 cents per gallon.

The EPA said on Friday it will use a rare regulatory process under the Clean Water Act to block construction of the Pebble mine in Alaska, Reuters reports. The review process will include a new consultation period, public hearings and more consultations with the US Army Corps of Engineers and mine developer Northern Dynasty Minerals. Last month an EPA assessment concluded that large-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, where the mine would be built, poses risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures.

North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources plans to cite Duke Energy for two violations of environmental standards related to last month’s coal ash spill into the Dan River, the New York Times reports. But the paper also outlines a deal between the agency and utility, reached last year, to limit the company’s clean-up obligations.

Sen. Rob Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter Friday to energy secretary Ernest Moniz, expressing concern about giant nuclear waste storage tanks that have shown construction problems, the New York Times reports. The tanks, at the DOE’s Hanford site in Washington state, show some of the same issues as a tank that began leaking in 2012, according to documents that Wyden released.

House Republicans are planning votes this week on three bills to limit environmental regulation, E&E Publishing reports. HR 3826 would strike down EPA’s carbon capture mandate for new power plants; HR 2641 would mandate a 4 1/2-year deadline on NEPA reviews; and HR 2824 would block the Office of Surface Mining from issuing its Steam Protection Rule.

The Department of Energy has issued a final rule defining energy conservation standards for commercial refrigeration equipment, with more stringent standards for some classes. Compliance will be required starting in 2017.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, joined a request made by congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) to investigate how the State Department selects outside contractors. Boxer’s letter cited concerns about the procedure used to choose the contractor for the Keystone XL pipeline‘s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

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