Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Efficiency ‘Under-Enforced,’ FERC Nominee Under Fire

by | Aug 23, 2013

The Energy Department’s appliance efficiency program is not adequately enforced, which could result in consumers buying products that do not meet minimum standards, the DOE’s Office of Inspector General said in a report. The DOE has also been late by one year, on average, in approving rule-making for a number of new standards and test procedures, the inspector said, according to the Hill.

The EPA will propose updates to toxic emissions standards for oil refineries by February and finalize them by December 2014, to settle a lawsuit by environmental and health groups. By February, the EPA is also due to decide whether to create residual risk standards for oil refineries under the Clean Air Act, Platts reports.

President Obama’s nomination of Ron Binz for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman has drawn fire from some coal industry figures, who say his policies while serving as Colorado’s top energy regulator pushed the conversion of power plants to natural gas. Environmentalists, meanwhile, have hired a public-relations firm to help push his confirmation, FuelFix reports.

Representatives of Duke Energy and American Electric Power met August 13 with aides from the EPA and White House Office of Management and Budget, to discuss draft carbon emissions standards due to be published September 20. Southern Company had a similar meeting August 21, and the aides also met with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Hill reports.

Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) called on EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to clarify whether the agency will retroactively require farmers to comply with the Spill, Prevention, Containment, and Countermeasure rule. The senators said the rule is too onerous for farmers, the Hill reported.

The EPA has proposed an $18.9 plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the White Swan Cleaners/Sun Cleaners Superfund site in New Jersey, for which Bank of America may be a responsible party required to pay cleanup costs. White Swan Cleaners and Sun Cleaners operated in the area between 1960 and 1991 and are believed to have contributed to perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) contamination in the soil and ground water. Vapors from the chemical contamination have also seeped into some residential and commercial buildings in the vicinity. Bank of America has already paid for the investigation and study of cleanup alternatives.

AK Steel Corporation will pay a civil penalty of $1.65 million for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its former coke production facility in Ashland, Ky., in a settlement with the state and federal governments. AK Steel also agreed to spend at least $2 million on projects to reduce particulate matter emissions at its Ashland West Works facility a few miles away.

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