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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Ethanol, EIA, Calif. Cap and Trade

An amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to eliminate a 45 cent on the dollar tax break given to ethanol blenders was defeated 40-59 on Tuesday, the Hill reports. More ethanol battles are expected in the Senate next week, however. Yesterday majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he’s planning a vote on ethanol incentives.

A panel of the House energy and commerce committee approved legislation today that would require an Obama administration decision on TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline by November 1. The project would be 1,600 miles long and would carry oil sands from Alberta to be refined in Texas, the Hill says. The legislation still must be approved by the full committee.

Today Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson will appear on Capitol Hill yet again, this time at the Senate environment and public works committee for a hearing titled “The Clean Air Act and Public Health, the Hill says. Yesterday the EPA delayed, by two months, a deadline for when it must propose draft rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Former six-term congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) is planning this fall to launch a coalition of Republicans who believe that global warming is man-made and humans should take steps to stop it. “Conservatives typically are people who try to be cognizant of risk and move to minimize risk. To be told of risk and to consciously decide to disregard it seems to be the opposite of conservative,” Inglis told the New York Times.

Coca-Cola, Ikea, M&S, Unilever and Google are among the more than 70 companies with European bases that have signed a declaration calling on the EU to set a new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent by 2020, from 1990 levels, Business Green reports. The companies have a combined annual turnover of €1tr and employ more than 3.4 million staff between them. Signatories also include BT, BSkyB, Carrefour, Philips, Sony Europe and Vodafone, as well as energy companies and clean tech firms that include Better Place, Centrica, Dong Energy, First Solar, National Grid, Scottish and Southern Energy and Vestas.

Former Energy Information Administration (EIA) administrator Guy Caruso, former Environmental Protection Agency chairman William Reilly, former energy secretary Bill Richardson and former energy secretary Spencer Abraham, among others, have called on the House and Senate appropriations committees to reconsider their planned deep cuts to the EIA budget, saying such cuts could cause “greater price volatility.” The proposed fiscal 2011 spending package cuts the agency’s budget by 14 percent, the Hill said.

California’s Air Resources Board on Monday revealed a draft analysis drawn up in response to Superior Court judge’s order, which required the board to show that it had adequately considered alternatives to the state’s proposed cap-and-trade system. A 45-day comment period is now underway, the New York Times reports.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a law that, according to the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY), will make it easier for companies in the state to install on-site renewable power. Farms and other non-residential utility customers will now be able to receive billing credits for the energy they produce, without having their systems physically connected to the sites using the energy, Sustainable Business reports.

The House energy and commerce subcommittee on environment and the economy will tomorrow mark up H.R. 1391, the “Recycling Coal Combustion Residuals Accessibility Act of 2011,” which aims to facilitate recovery and beneficial use of coal ash, and to provide for the proper management and disposal of this material.

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