Policy & Enforcement Briefing: GMO Crop Delay, Arctic Strategy, McCarthy and Moniz Votes

by | May 13, 2013

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Democrats will attempt another vote on Gina McCarthy’s nomination for EPA administrator on Thursday, the Hill said. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is ill, will travel to Washington to enable a quorum in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Republicans boycotted a vote last week as they sought more information about the data the EPA uses to draft regulations.

A full Senate vote on Ernest Moniz’s nomination for energy secretary could take place as early as tomorrow, the Hill reports. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last week lifted a procedural block, allowing the Senate to agree to a vote.

The EPA has decided to apply more stringent environmental reviews to genetically engineered corn and soybeans from Dow Chemical and Monsanto, after determining that the crops could significantly affect the human environment, the New York Times reported. These products are now unlikely to reach the market until 2015 at the earliest.

The White House has released a National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The strategy seeks to balance conservation with development of energy and mineral resources, the Hill says.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold opening statements tomorrow for a mark-up on the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act of 2013 (H.R. 271), authored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). The act aims to ensure that power companies can comply with DOE emergency orders to maintain grid reliability without facing penalties for violating environmental laws. The committee will reconvene Wednesday to consider the legislation. Background and bill text will be posted here.

The EPA and other federal agencies have added 11 locations to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which aims to improve water quality, restore ecosystems and enhance public access to urban waters. The departments of energy and education are also joining the partnership, and a progress report released Friday details plans for each location.

Chevron Corp. is entitled to unspecified damages in a dispute with the federal government over California oil deposits worth $37 billion, according to a US Court of Claims made public Thursday, Bloomberg reports. Judge Susan Braden said the Department of Energy “repeatedly and materially violated” two agreements determining equity interests in the Elk Hills Reserve.

Three greenhouse gas mitigation policies under consideration in Canada would all deliver emissions reductions at reasonable cost, according to a report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The institute says compromise between the federal government, Alberta and the oil and gas industry is possible. The report is available here.

The American Petroleum Institute said the Bureau of Land Management’s delay on oil and gas leasing will prevent economic growth, the Associated Press reports. The bureau has postponed all oil and gas auctions on California’s prime public lands until October.

About 1,000 people marched Saturday against Hefei Guoxuan High-tech Power Energy Co’s plans for a lithium battery factory in Shanghai. The protesters are part of a growing anti-pollution movement in China, which also included protests against China National Petroleum Corp’s planned chemical refinery in Kunming, Reuters reports.

Blount Boats, which operates a shipbuilding and ship repair facility in Warren, R.I., has agreed to pay a $24,000 penalty and spend at least $230,000 on a clean air project to resolve EPA claims that it violated federal and state clean air regulations. The agency alleged that Blount used paints with hazardous air pollutants greater than the allowable limits, failing to keep required records of paint usage, and failing to submit notifications and reports to state and federal officials.

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