Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Soot Suit, Water Project Act, Nuclear Approval

by | Mar 20, 2013

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The National Association of Manufacturers has filed a lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals challenging EPA rules, issued in December, that would lower the annual soot exposure standard from 15 to 12 micrograms per cubic meter, the Hill reports. NAM called the regulations economically burdensome, and the association was backed by Republicans, who said factories, power plants, diesel vehicles and ships would all be harmed by the rules.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday unveiled the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said will speed up delivery of water infrastructure projects. The bill also includes a pilot program, funded at $50 million a year, providing state and local governments with loans and loan guarantees for water supply, wastewater and flood control initiatives, Governing reported.

The bipartisan WRDA, co-sponsored by ranking member David Vitter (R-LA), is expected to clear the environment committee today, Politico reports. Boxer said Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged to push the bill to the floor in April or May.

Britain looks set to build its first nuclear plant in decades after energy secretary Ed Davey gave French energy company EDF planning permission for Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The plant will have two nuclear reactors able to power five million homes, at a likely cost of £14 billion ($21 billion), but EDF and the government still need to agree on an electricity price, the Independent reports.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said he has placed a hold on the nomination of Gina McCarthy, president Obama’s pick for EPA administrator, UPI reports. Blunt plans to block the appointment until the White House announces a timescale for publication of a draft environmental impact statement for a project to install pumping stations and fix a 1,500-foot gap in levees on the Mississippi River in southeastern Missouri.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee says it will vote tomorrow on Sally Jewell’s nomination for secretary of the interior. The Seattle Times says she is expected to clear the panel, and will face a full Senate vote shortly after.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will today unveil a bill to allow coastal states to collect more offshore energy revenue, the HIll reports. The proposal would lift a $500 million cap on the revenues that Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are expected to begin receiving in 2017. Landrieu said the bill would redress a “glaring inequity” between onshore and offshore energy-producing states. 

The Alaska Oil and Gas Association gave notice of its intention to sue over the federal government’s decision to list ringed seals and bearded seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in December that the two would join polar bears as species listed as threatened by diminishing sea ice, the AP reports.

Opponents of renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) have 42 separate efforts underway to dismantle or weaken the state-level renewable energy mandates, according to InsideClimate News, citing the North Carolina Solar Center. A policy analyst at the center said the chance of some RPSs being repealed is greater this year than last year.

France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Finland and Luxembourg all likely failed to meet European emissions standards in 2011, according to preliminary European Environment Agency standards, Reuters reports. Transport emissions were largely to blame, but the total of eight non-compliant states is down from 12 countries in 2010.

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