Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Henry Waxman, Colorado Solar, FERC Nominee, Keystone XL, Oil Shipments
Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), a senior Democrat and prominent voice in environmental, climate and other legislation, is retiring at the end of the year. The 20-term representative from California was first elected in 1974.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a motion from the Colorado Energy Office that will keep one of the state’s solar programs in place for the near term and provide an opportunity for a discussion about the future of rooftop solar in Colorado. This decision follows strong public opposition to a plan from Xcel Energy to roll back a net metering program, according to Vote Solar and the Sierra Club.
The enforcement chief in charge of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s crackdown on Wall Street is President Barack Obama’s choice to chair the agency, the White House announced. Norman Bay has been the director since July 2009 and is an unusal choice as he is not a sitting commission member, Politico reports.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed state agencies to strengthen oversight of petroleum shipments by rail, citing devastating accidents in Quebec and North Dakota and the expansion of crude oil shipping through the Port of Albany. The governor had issued an executive order directing the department and other agencies to evaluate the state’s spill prevention, response and inspection programs involving rail and ship transport of petroleum products, and to report recommendations on April 30.
The World Bank is launching a new initiative at the World Future Energy Summit and International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, that will help developing countries better plan and manage scaling up energy capacity to meet rising demand, in tandem with water resource management. Last year alone, water shortages shut down thermal power plants in India, decreased energy production in power plants in the US and threatened hydropower generation in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China and Brazil, according to SWS.
The State Department is poised to issue an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline as soon as today that will likely say the project will not appreciably increase carbon emissions, forcing President Barack Obama closer to a tough decision, according to sources quoted by Reuters.
A group of senators is pushing the EPA to reconsider its proposed cuts in volume levels for the amount of biofuels that must be blended by refiners into the nation’s oil supply. In a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy, 10 senators warned that if the proposed levels at 2.2 billion gallons, down by 1.5 billion gallons from a 2007 target, were finalized they would take away all motivation for investments in advanced biofuels, The Hill reports.
Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) say they are ready to propose legislation that would lift a decades-old ban on crude oil exports if President Obama doesn’t take action, according to The Hill. Landrieu will soon head the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Murkowski is the ranking Republican.
The EPA is proposing to approve a revision to the Wisconsin State Implementation Plan (SIP). The SIP revision repeals an obsolete Total Suspended Particulate Matter rule to align the State’s air quality standards with the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This action makes no substantive changes to the SIP and imposes no new requirements.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) urged passage of the Farm Bill, saying it would support the production of renewable energy and the biochemical industry. The Farm Bill was passed in the House on Wednesday and action is pending in the Senate. Particular provisions would provide long-overdue eligibility to renewable chemicals under the Section 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program; strengthen the Biobased Markets Program to accelerate market awareness of these technologies; and prioritize research and development on crop insurance options for purpose-grown energy crops, BIO said.
State officials in West Virginia say they can no longer detect any of the industrial chemical, MCHM, that spilled recently, and that drinking water is now safe based on federal guidelines. But Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, the largest public health department in West Virginia, when asked said he is not certain of the assurances, calling the question “debatable,” according to NPR.
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