Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Binz Out, SCOTUS, Wind Tax Credits
President Obama’s nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman, Ron Binz, has withdrawn his nomination after intense opposition from Republicans and fossil fuel groups, Politico reports. Binz said his record was “spun and respun” to paint him as biased against fossil fuels. Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, said Binz was “the wrong nominee at the worst possible time for American consumers.”
The US Supreme Court, in its next term, will not consider petitions regarding the Obama administration’s climate policies. These include petitions by Texas, Virginia and industry groups. The court may hear the cases at a later date, or may decline to hear them altogether, Reuters reports.
The EPA has announced 11 planned “listening sessions” around the country, where it will solicit the public’s feedback on proposed carbon standards for existing power plants. The National Journal says, however, that the government shutdown could interfere with these plans. Sessions are planned for Seattle; San Francisco; Denver; Dallas; Chicago; Atlanta; Philadelphia; New York; Boston; Lenexa, Kansas; and Washington, DC.
Congress is unlikely to extend tax credits for wind and other renewables, set to expire at the end of the year, Bloomberg reports. The tax-writing committees in the House and Senate have not marked up any legislation to extend the credits. A congressional analysis obtained by the Hill shows that extending the wind farm tax credit by one year would cost $6.1 billion. This morning, the energy policy, health care and entitlements subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on the production tax credit.
A report by the EPA’s inspector general, released on Monday, found no evidence that agency officials used private email accounts to keep official business from the public eye. But the report found that the EPA lacks sufficient internal controls, the Hill reports.
California and Quebec have signed an agreement outlining steps and procedures to fully harmonize their two cap-and-trade programs. In April the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation setting January 1, 2014 as the start of the linkage, which will enable carbon allowances and offset credits to be exchanged between participants in the two jurisdictions’ programs.
The California Air Resources Board has posted the public discussion draft of a required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The EPA has finalized a $506 million plan to clean up Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal Superfund site, which it calls one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated bodies of water. The final plan will require the removal of contaminated sediment and capping of dredged areas, along with controls to reduce sewage overflows and prevent other land-based sources of contamination from compromising the cleanup. The agency says parties that are potentially responsible for the contamination, and therefore for cleanup costs, include National Grid, the city of New York and other private and federal government entities.
The EPA is finalizing a rule that will allow the agency to restrict imports of potentially harmful perfluorinated chemicals that could be used in carpets. The regulation will require companies to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic and imported products, of these chemicals once used for soil and stain resistance in carpets. The agency says that while the US chemical industry has largely voluntarily phased out the chemicals, they still may be found in imported carpets.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is publishing a revised statement of policy to update baseline assessments for frequently-cited violations of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) and to clarify additional factors that affect penalty amounts. This revised statement of policy is intended to provide the regulated community and the general public with information on the hazardous materials penalty assessment process.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) yesterday said a bipartisan group of senators will meet this week to try and revive the stalled Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation, the Hill reports. “We are coming up with a new strategy… I am not giving up,” Shaheen said.
Correction: The EPA listening sessions are on carbon standards for existing power plants, not new power plants, as previously reported.
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