Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Fracking Rule Delay, Monsanto Sued, Solar Trade Talks

Sally Jewell

by | Jun 7, 2013

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Sally JewellInterior secretary Sally Jewell (pictured) said she will triple the one-month comment period on proposals to tighten standards for oil and gas drilling, including fracking, on federal lands. The Bureau of Land Management rules would force companies to disclose the chemicals they pump underground, and would require drillers to enact plans for water management, FuelFix reports.

The Center for Food Safety, Clarmar and farmer Tom Stahl filed a lawsuit yesterday in a US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, accusing Monsanto of failing to prevent its unauthorized wheat strains from contaminating US crops and lowering prices. Their action follows a lawsuit filed Monday by a Kansas wheat farmer, and by two other farmers in Washington state, following the discovery of Monsanto’s experimental wheat on an Oregon farm, Reuters says.
The US, China and the EU have started discussing a possible global agreement to resolve trade disputes over solar panels, Reuters reports. Last year the US imposed billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on solar products, and the EU has also enacted duties, though it delayed the highest tariffs while it attempts to reach a settlement with China.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered operators of 31 nuclear units – almost a third of all US nuclear reactors – to overhaul vent systems in the next four years to help prevent pressure-induced explosions, Bloomberg said. The owners include Exelon and Entergy.
The Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge have sued Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) and several coal companies for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The groups say they collected evidence demonstrating the companies’ responsibility for emitting coal into waterways in several locations across Washington.
The environment and economy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved bills to allow states to regulate coal ash, and giving states a bigger role in the Superfund process, The Hill reports. The panel also approved legislation to allow the EPA to review its solid waste regulations at any time, rather than its current schedule of every three years, and ensure that the EPA’s financial requirements for hazardous substances do not preempt state requirements. All bills now head to the full committee.

Connecticut became the first state to pass legislation forcing food manufacturers to label products containing genetically modified ingredients, but the lawmakers included a provision that the bill would not take effect unless four other states pass similar rules. Governor Dannel P. Malloy said he would sign the bill, the New York Times reports. 

Miami-Date County in Florida has agreed to spend about $1.6 billion on major upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants and its wastewater collection and transmission systems, to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows. Under a settlement with the EPA and Department of Justice, Miami-Dade will also pay a civil penalty of $978,100 and complete a supplemental environmental project costing $2,047,200. Between January 2007 and May 2013, Miami-Dade reported 211 sanitary sewer overflows totaling more than 51 million gallons, the EPA said. 

EPA Region 7 is conducting pesticide, herbicide and metals sampling at the HPI Products Inc. site at 1300 S. 8th Street in St. Joseph, Mo. The EPA says it is investigating potential chemical release during a grain elevator demolition, which it says HPI began without consulting the agency.

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