Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Keystone XL, Edge Products Penalty, Fallow Farmland

by | Jan 18, 2013

The Keystone XL pipeline will have a greater impact on climate than previously thought because it will expand the tar sands industry and lead to increased combustion of a dirty form of oil, a study from Oil Change International finds. The report says that current analyses are undercounting carbon emissions by excluding the impact of petroleum coke, which is considered a refinery byproduct, the Natural Resources Defense Council said.

Ten GOP governors and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall sent a letter to President Obama pressing for approval of the Keystone XL project. The group says the pipeline could lead to an increase in imports from Canada to 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what is currently imported from the Persian Gulf, and create the necessary infrastructure for more exports from the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana, The Hill said.

Automotive electronics manufacturer Edge Products has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty in a settlement with the DOJ and EPA for manufacturing and selling electronic devices that allowed owners of model year 2007 and later diesel pickup trucks to remove emission controls from their vehicles. The company, located in Ogden, Utah, sold more than 9,000 of these electronic devices nationwide, resulting in an estimated 158 tons of excess PM emissions released into the atmosphere, the EPA said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Energy Infrastructure Update reports that renewable energy accounted for nearly half of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed in 2012. Wind added 10,689 MW in new capacity followed by solar with 1,476 MW; biomass additions totaled 543 MW, the report said.

Germany’s agriculture minister Ilse Aigner has voiced opposition to the European Commission’s proposals to keep 7 percent of EU farmland fallow for environmental reasons, saying that the percentage is too large. Germany has suggested that other types of environmentally-friendly land use could contribute to a greening policy. The proposal is part of negotiations to update EU’s farm support program, the Common Agricultural Policy, Reuters said.

The Labor Department issued a new rule that simplifies the process by which the Mine Safety and Health Administration can cite mine operators with patterns of violating health and safety regulations. Under the new rules, MSHA can issue “pattern of violation” notices against mine operators without issuing a previous warning, and hold operators accountable for disregarding safety measures. The regulation are in response to the 2010 West Virginia coal mine explosion at Massey Energy’s Big Branch mine, The Hill said.

In a court filing Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and former Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) defended SEC rules that force oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. The lawmakers said that the lawsuit against the Dodd-Frank act, brought on by oil and business groups, challenges the power of Congress to make policy on energy and national security, The Hill said.

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