Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Hess, BNSF, Columbia Fines; Calif. Buildings, Bioeconomy Blueprint

by | Apr 27, 2012

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The EPA says it temporarily put a stop sale order on pesticide-treated clothing by Columbia Sportswear Company, after the Portland, Oregon-based company allegedly mislabeled, then sold and distributed the apparel. The order has now been lifted, and the company find $22,880. According to the agency, the labels lacked the required EPA pesticide registration number, a proper ingredient statement, a proper storage and disposal statement, and were missing the statement “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

Hess has agreed to spend more than $45 million in new pollution controls and pay an $850,000 civil penalty to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Port Reading, N.J., refinery. The controls are estimated to reduce NOx emissions by 181 tons per year. The settlement also includes requirements for more stringent emission limits and aggressive monitoring, the EPA and DOJ said.

The White House announced the formulation of the National Bioeconomy Blueprint, outlining the US commitment to economic activity powered by research and innovation in the biosciences, Inter Press Service said. The plan aims to spur research and development of medical treatments, crops, biofuels and biological manufacturing processes to replace industrial methods, the New York Times said.

California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order for agencies and departments to take immediate steps to meet LEED Silver standards in state-owned buildings larger than 10,000 square feet, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and if feasible use clean on-site power generation. The orders are: Reduce GHG emissions by 10 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020, against a 2010 baseline; Reduce overall water use by 10 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020, against a 2010 baseline; Reduce grid-based energy purchases by 20 percent by 2018, as compared to a 2003 baseline; Construct all new state buildings and renovations, beginning design after 2025, as zero net energy facilities – with an interim target of 50 percent net-zero facilities for projects beginning design after 2020; Participate in demand response programs to the maximum extent that is cost-effective; Pursue opportunities to provide EV charging stations, and accommodate future charging infrastructure demand; and Purchase and use environmentally preferable products whenever applicable and cost-effective.

BNSF Railway has settled with the EPA for the alleged mishandling and transportation of at least 36 cubic yards of contaminated soil containing a hazardous waste material, pentachlorophenol, from a construction project near the McCormick & Baxter Superfund site on the banks of the Willamette River in Oregon. The company will pay a $37,500 penalty as part of the agreement.

An EPA representative is on the scene after a Chesapeake Energy-operated shale well leaked natural gas and drilling mud in Wyoming. Chesapeake lost control of the well on Tuesday while installing a casing, triggering the leak. No injuries, explosions, or above-normal air quality readings were reported, but 67 residents were evacuated, Reuters said.

The Department of the Interior has said there is still no specific timeline for the release of proposed regulations for fracking on public lands. The regulations will require disclosure of chemicals used; ensure the integrity of the wellbore; and prevent flow-back water from contaminating streams, The Hill said.

The implementation phase of the new Climate and Clean Air Coalition was boosted with the announcements that Colombia, Japan, Nigeria, Norway, the EU and the World Bank are joining the coalition, which until now had 13 members. The group aims to fast track momentum towards reducing black carbon (soot), methane and a range of HFCs, UNEP said.

The International Energy Agency said that despite progress, most clean energy technologies are not being deployed quickly enough to make a significant contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Onshore wind has had 27 percent average annual growth over the past decade, and solar PV has grown at 42 percent with a 75 percent reduction in system costs in some countries, the agency said.

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