Walker says EPA should be limited 'umbrella organization'

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said Monday he would shift most of the responsibilities of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to state-based regulators, leaving the EPA to serve as an "umbrella organization" that would resolve disputes between them.

Like many Republicans, the Wisconsin governor is a vocal critic of the agency charged with enforcing the nation's laws against pollution. While Walker said he would not eliminate the EPA if elected president, he would shift its powers and resources to state environmental agencies such as Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources.


Biofuels, oil groups pummel RFS as comment window closes

The oil and biofuels industries were united Monday in expressing their distaste for the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed three-year Renewable Fuel Standard, though on the final day to submit public comment, they presented starkly different visions of the ideal final blending requirements.

The oil and refining sectors criticized the agency's current proposals for 2014, 2015 and 2016, predicting that the consequences of the new blending levels would include flooding the market with ethanol, breaking the E10 “blend wall,” and unintended damage to vehicle engines.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee photo.

Senate to take first crack at bipartisan energy reform bill

With the August recess fast approaching, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is set to devote its schedule to marking up a newly introduced bipartisan energy reform bill this week.

The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, introduced by Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., last week, is the culmination of the committee’s work so far this Congress. The panel held several hearings and considered more than 100 pieces of legislation.

Obama taps FAA official to lead DOE management office

President Barack Obama on Thursday named Victoria Wassmer, an assistant administrator for finance and management at the Federal Aviation Administration, to serve as Under Secretary for Management and Performance in the Department of Energy.

Wassmer, if confirmed by the Senate, would lead the office that the Energy Department says “functions as the Chief Operating Officer,” tasked with overseeing staff, information technology, procurement and facilities management. 

University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering photo

EPA seeks head start on oil and gas methane with voluntary program

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil rules to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas sector this summer, but the agency is getting a head start with a voluntary program that would help producers scale back the potent greenhouse gas.

The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program, proposed on Thursday, would build upon existing voluntary programs aimed at cutting methane by allowing new mechanisms for oil and gas companies to make commitments and track progress.

Industry voiced cautious interest, although environmental groups expressed doubts about the plan's effectiveness, calling instead for strong regulations to achieve methane reductions.


GOP rails against RFS, presses for repeal of 'outdated mandate'

A pair of House Republican subcommittee chairmen on Thursday made sharp calls for an end to the Renewable Fuel Standard, calling the Environmental Protection Agency's biofuels blending program a “complex and outdated mandate.”

At a Thursday hearing of their House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees, Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, chairman of the energy panel, and Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., chairman of the oversight panel, drove home a point that the program—adopted by Congress in 2005—no longer reflects current market conditions and is driving energy and environmental problems.

EPA seeks to bar fracking wastewater from local treatment plants


The option of sending fracking wastewater into municipal water treatment plants would be off the table under a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency, FuelFix reports.

Environmental groups mount legal challenges to water rule


The Clean Water Rule doesn't do enough to protect bodies of water, environmental groups are saying as they file petitions against the regulation in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, E&E reports.

Court move delays DOI fracking rules


A federal judge has granted a motion giving the Obama administration more time to provide information about drilling rules on federal land, delaying until at least September any possibility of the rules taking effect, FuelFix reports.

Associated Press

EPA watchdog urges decision on fracking chemical disclosure

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to improve its oversight of whether diesel fuel is used in hydraulic fracturing, and decide whether to require the disclosure of chemicals used in the oil and gas extraction process, the agency's internal watchdog says.

The inspector general's report Thursday drew measured praise from some environmental groups and a cautious reception from industry, but was blasted by a prominent Republican chairman on Capitol Hill.


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