Policy & Enforcement Briefing: McCarthy Grilling, ConocoPhillips, Carbon Markets

by | Apr 12, 2013

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The Senate confirmed REI chief executive Sally Jewell (pictured) as Interior Secretary on Wednesday, in an 87-11 vote, the Boston Globe reports. One of her first agenda items will be a rule proposing that companies publicly disclose the chemicals they use in fracking on public lands.

The EPA will show flexibility when applying new pollution rules to coal plants, EPA administrator nominee Gina McCarthy said in a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday. She told Senators that coal will continue to be a significant part of the US energy mix, Reuters reported.

Republicans on the committee also grilled McCarthy, currently director of the EPA’s office of air and radiation, on the agency’s transparency and litigation methods, the New York Times reported. The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on her nomination.

CoconoPhillips has suspended plans for drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea in 2014 because of “regulatory uncertainty,” including changing federal rules. It is the third major oil company to back off from offshore drilling in the US Arctic, the Los Angeles Times says.

President Obama’s budget proposes to increase clean energy funding by 40 percent over current levels, paid for in part by elimination of tax breaks and subsidies for oil, gas and coal. But he proposes to cut spending for environmental protection, Reuters reports.

California governor Jerry Brown has given the state Air Resources Board permission to enact its plans of linking the California and Quebec carbon markets, the Los Angeles Times reported. The board will review the plan this fall, and if it makes no changes, the markets will link on January 1. Brown is in China to discuss the market with that nation’s leaders, who hope to enact their own system.

Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark called on the EU to approved plans to backload emissions trading allowances, in an effort to raise carbon prices, Reuters reports. The European parliament will vote on the proposals on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives yesterday passed H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, with a bipartisan vote of 416-7. This legislation would help generate thousands of megawatts of hydropower at no cost to taxpayers by authorizing development on existing, man-made Bureau of Reclamation water canals and pipes, streamlining a duplicative regulatory process, and cutting administrative costs, according to the House Natural Resources Committee.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed expanding its dolphin protection regulations to include more fisheries and tuna fishing techniques, Reuters reported. The agency had to revise its rules to comply with a trade case won by Mexico at the World Trade Organization last year. But Mexico’s fishing industry says the new rules will actually keep Mexican products out of the US market.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on world leaders to take stronger action to protect the planet’s seas, warning about the effects of pollution, resource depletion, climate change and acidification. He said oceans play a critical role in the health of the planet as well as the economy.

The EPA reissued Clean Water Act permits to the Guam Waterworks Authority for the Northern District and Agana Sewage Treatment plants. The permits require both plants to upgrade to full secondary treatment and establish wastewater quality levels consistent with secondary treatment requirements, the agency said.

Jay-Cee Cleaners, a former dry cleaning business in Nelsonia, Va., and its former owner John L. Darby, have agreed to reimburse the EPA for costs the agency incurred while responding to the release of hazardous substances once used at the site. The agency’s response costs were $616,351. Darby also agreed to resolve his failure to comply with EPA’s information gathering efforts by paying a penalty, the agency said – though it didn’t specify the amount.

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