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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Calif. Cap-and-Trade, Nuclear Delays, Logging Ban

A state superior court judge ruled on Friday that California must halt plans for a cap-and-trade system until regulators can consider alternatives to emissions trading, the New York Times reports. Judge Ernest Goldsmith said the California Air Resources Board should “take no action” to start up cap-and-trade until it completes the analysis. The decision follows one by Goldsmith last month, in which he said that the board had failed to sufficiently study alternatives to carbon trading.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found more problems with the only nuclear reactor design being used in a project under construction, the New York Times reports. NRC chairman Gregory B. Jaczko said on Friday that computations submitted by Westinghouse, the manufacturer of the AP1000 reactor, appear to be incorrect. A commission spokesman said a decision on regulatory approval for the design would be delayed until Westinghouse submits a third round of calculations. He did not specify a timeline, but the commission had previously said it expected to approve the design this summer.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has recommended licensing Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, proposed for installation in the East Channel of the East River in New York City. If approved, the RITE Project would be the first tidal power plant licensed to transmit energy onto the national grid. Verdant Power has proposed a three-phased development, beginning in 2012.  The up to 1 MW project would generate an estimated 2.4 GWh after the completion of its third phase. Verdant Power submitted its license application under FERC’s newly established Hydrokinetic Pilot Project Licensing Procedures, developed to allow for the advancement of US hydrokinetic technologies (tidal, river, wave power), while maintaining FERC oversight and agency input.

The House energy and commerce committee is today holding a hearing on legislation that would set a deadline for federal permitting of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta through the U.S. to Gulf Coast refineries, the Hill says.

On Tuesday, the energy committee will consider one bill to speed up air permits for offshore oil and gas drilling in Alaska, and another bill to require an inter-agency analysis of the cumulative economic effects of certain EPA regulations, the Hill reports. Also tomorrow, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson will return to Capitol Hill for a hearing at the House oversight and government reform committee, on the link between gas prices and domestic production.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has signed a two-year moratorium on new logging concessions in the country’s virgin forests, which he says will protect 150 million acres, the New York Times reports. The ban is part of a $1 billion climate change deal with Norway. But environmental groups said the deal suffers from “gaping loopholes”. The ban will not apply to extensions for current permits, or to those permits that have been provisionally granted, and much secondary forest will be available to loggers, Agence France-Presse reports (via the Times).

The first major report from Australia’s Climate Commission has warned that the country is already suffering the economic effects of climate change, and the study backs the prime minister’s carbon tax plans, Business Green reports. The Critical Decade report (pdf) blames global warming for increasing the number of record hot days in Australia, leading to bush fires and heat-related deaths.

U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said that the country’s Green Investment Bank will begin lending from as early as next April, Business Green reports. The bank will be backed by an initial £3 billion of government money, with the aim of leveraging up to £15 billion of private capital over the next four years. Sky News has reported that Sir Adrian Montague, chairman of private equity group 3i and former chair of British Energy, will lead the advisory group that will set up the investment bank.

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