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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Shipping Emissions, Drought Relief, Wind Credit Extension

Environmental regulation requiring ships to use cleaner, low-sulfur fuel while operating near the North American coast took effect Aug. 1. The North American Emissions Control Area (see map) brings the US in line with other regions such as the EU in imposing sulfur limits on marine fuel. The shipping industry predicts a rise in prices as refiners pass on the higher cost of producing cleaner fuel, Reuters said.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind energy, inserting the one-year, $3.3 billion break into a suite of business tax breaks. The tax package passed the committee, 19-5, and it is likely to be a top priority when the Senate returns in September, The New York Times said.

The House of Representatives passed a livestock disaster aid package, the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012. The package will cost $383 million over 10 years, with $639 million in offsets from the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for a net reduction of $256 million over 10 years. The drought relief bill retroactively extends the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Program, the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program, writes Agri-Pulse.

Six New England states have agreed to release RFPs in 2013 for a large amount of wind power and other sources of renewable energy. The agreement came at the New England Governors’ Conference. The state leaders said that regional procurement of renewable energy will help New England develop renewable energy resources more cost effectively, and broaden energy supply diversity, North American Windpower said.

Nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Peter Welch of Vermont and Paul Tonko of New York, said that with the new route, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is essentially an entirely new project. The group asked the State Department to launch a broad new environmental analysis of the pipeline, FuelFix writes.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the agency has changed its policy and is not allowing TransCanada researchers to trap and relocate the endangered American burying beetle from the new path of the Keystone XL pipeline. The new policy is that a research project on endangered species that requires disturbing the species will not be allowed before major construction projects receive their federal permits. Trapping and relocating these beetles can only be done in the spring and summer, which may delay the Keystone XL pipeline by up to a year, the Omaha World Herald said.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Defense subcommittee approved alternative fuel spending that includes money for the Navy biofuels program. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will now determine whether that alternative fuel proposal should remain in the $604.5 billion defense appropriations bill. The Armed Services Committee already has effectively blocked the Navy biofuels program on the grounds of cost, The Hill said.

The EPA has failed to regulate pollution from the nation’s livestock farms because it lacked information as basic as how many farms existed, the Huffington Post said. Details about how much manure the farms generate and how the waste is handled is kept by various state or local agencies, or not collected at all. To settle a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, the EPA agreed to propose a rule requiring livestock operations to report information to the agency – but it didn’t actually promise to adopt the rule.

Two judges on India’s Supreme Court have allowed the ship once named the Exxon Valdez to be scrapped at a yard in Alang. Environmentalists had protested the planned scrapping and movement of the ship, currently named Oriental Nicety, arguing that it was laden with toxic chemicals, including mercury, arsenic and asbestos, the Los Angeles Times said.

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