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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: RGGI Updates, China Fuel Standards, WTO Solar Case, Fisheries

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative released an updated RGGI rule and program review. Changes include a reduction of the 2014 regional CO2 budget from 165 million to 91 million tons – a reduction of 45 percent – and a new forestry protocol. As well, RGGI said it would not allow the resale of unsold 2012 and 2013 CO2 allowances.

China’s cabinet has issued a timetable for oil companies to deliver cleaner fuel nationwide beginning this year, but the new standards won’t become mandatory for four years. The new standard for automobile gas caps sulfur content within 10 parts per million (ppm) before the end of the year, with a grace period extending to the end of 2017, Reuters said.

The Indian government said in response to a US complaint at the World Trade Organization that New Delhi’s solar power program doesn’t discriminate against foreign equipment makers. The Indian government has received a notice from the WTO, and said it will reply within 10 days. Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary at the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, told The Wall Street Journal that the government did insist that some projects get equipment from local vendors, but this was only for specific items.

EU lawmakers have voted to overhaul the region’s fisheries policy by imposing sustainability quotas by 2015 and ending the practice of discarding unwanted fish at sea. Under current policy, 63 percent of the EU’s Atlantic stocks and 82 percent of its Mediterranean stocks are overfished. All European quotas be set at the maximum sustainable yield. The fishing industry had called for introducing that standard on a case-by-case basis starting in 2020, the New York Times said.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter to the DOI saying the hydraulic fracturing rule under revision should include measures to protect public health and the environment. Wyden is calling for provisions requiring firms to publicly disclose fracking activities and ensure the integrity of wells. He is also urging for monitoring requirements in the rule, The Hill said.

The EPA reached a $618,000 settlement with three gold mining companies, all subsidiaries of Barrack Gold Corporation, related to their reporting of toxic chemical releases and waste management activities. The companies, Barrack Cortez, Inc., Barrack Gold US, Inc. and Homestake Mining Company, agreed to pay a total of $278,000 in fines and spend an additional $340,000 to conduct an environmentally beneficial project. The alleged violations involved incorrect reporting under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act at the Cortez Gold Mine near Crescent Valley, the Ruby Hill Gold Mine near Eureka, and the Bald Mountain Gold Mine near the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, all in Nevada, the agency said.

The EPA has reached a settlement with Merriam Manufacturing, Aztec Industries, and the Estate of Allan Adams for partial reimbursement of EPA’s past costs in the remediation at the Durham Meadows Superfund Site. Because of the parties’ limited ability to pay, the consent decree allows them to meet responsibilities solely through payments from insurance claims proceeds and the sale of property at the Merriam Manufacturing Co. portion of the site. The total value of the insurance claims and property is not yet determined, the agency said.

The US Departments of Energy and the Treasury announced the availability of $150 million in Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy and energy efficiency manufacturing projects. The initial funding round provided $2.3 billion in credits to 183 projects across the country. The $150 million in tax credits made available now were not used by the previous awardees, the DOE said.

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