Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Macondo Well, TX Emission Caps, Carbon Capture

by | Oct 12, 2012

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The US Coast Guard has confirmed that oil from a sheen spotted on the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig matches samples from BP’s Macondo well. The Coast Guard notified BP and Transocean that either party or both may be held accountable for any cost associated with operations related to the sheen. The sheen is thought to be from the wreckage as the well was capped with cement in September 2010, Reuters said.

The EPA has approved revisions to the Texas state permitting program for major air pollution sources under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review program. The changes, submitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, provide industry with operating flexibility by establishing site-wide emission caps known as Plant-wide Applicability Limits, or PALs, for existing sources. These PALs require continuous monitoring for each of the units included in the cap, the EPA said.

Britain’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey, wants to financially support two pilot carbon capture and storage projects, and develop the technology as a new export product. The government has launched a £1 billion ($1.6 billion) competition to fund one or more projects. Britain’s previous attempts to finance CCS projects failed as costs surged above expectations, Reuters said.

China’s nascent emissions trading programs pave the way for a global climate change agreement to come into force in 2020, according to a report by Climate Bridge, for The Climate Institute. These pilots collectively make up the world’s second largest carbon trade scheme, and are expected to result in a program covering all of China by 2015-2016, the report said.

The Department of Justice, the EPA and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection have reached a settlement with AVX Corp. for $366.25 million plus interest regarding the New Bedford Harbor Superfund Site, in New Bedford, Mass. The settlement allows for expedited implementation of the cleanup of the New Bedford Harbor Site at full capacity, and will be paid to the United States and the commonwealth jointly, and retained by EPA for use at the Harbor Site, the agency said.

The Federal Trade Commission said it will enforce antitrust laws and address manipulative practices in energy markets if market manipulation is behind the surge in California gasoline prices. A bipartisan 2007 energy law gave the regulators new powers to crack down on manipulation in petroleum markets. Senior Democrats have called for an FTC investigation of the price increase, The Hill said.

The EPA has issued its cleanup plan for contaminated sediment, soil, surface water and groundwater at the Centredale Manor Restoration Project Superfund Site in North Providence, R.I. The agency will begin a mediation process with potentially responsible parties for the cleanup work. The estimated cost is $104 million, the EPA said.

Conservative group American Commitment is spending $400,000 on Ohio TV and radio advertising to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). The ads link the senator to what the advertisers call President Obama’s “War on Coal” – regulations opposed by the coal industry. The ad campaign may impact the presidential race as Obama and Romney also reach out to coal industry voters in the swing state, The Hill said.

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