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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Light Bulbs, Mercury, BPA, Tidal Power

Presidential candidate and member of congress Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has hit out at a federal law that requires light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient starting next year. “President Bachmann will allow you to buy any light bulb you want,” Bachmann said at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, La., according to the Hill. Bachmann said her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act would repeal the relevant provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Proposed limits on mercury and other toxic air emissions from coal plants were the focus when EPA administrator Lisa Jackson testified at a Senate environment and public works committee hearing last week. The rule was issued in mid-March and is subject to an ongoing, 60-day comment period. The panel queried Jackson on how she would respond to a letter from 27 House Democrats, asking the EPA to extend the comment period to 120 days. A court order requires the EPA to finalize the standards by November, Solve Climate News reported.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday ruled against a Natural Resources Defense Council petition, seeking to force the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the use of BPA as a food additive, the New York Times reports. The judges unanimously ruled against the NRDC on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that the case belongs in district court.

Tomorrow the subcommittee on environment and the economy, within the House energy and commerce committee, will mark up the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, which aims to facilitate the use and safe management of coal ash.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is holding talks this week about how to improve nuclear safety in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Bloomberg said the U.N. agency’s decision to hold the talks in private may backfire, because critics have argued that nuclear plant operators and safety regulators have not been transparent enough.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recommended approval for a project that would be the first grid-connected tidal energy plant in the U.S, Sustainable Business reports. The Verdant Power project in New York’s East River would site 30 underwater turbines between Roosevelt Island and the borough of Queens.

Maine legislature has passed an ambitious bill aiming to reduce Maine’s overall oil use by 50 percent by 2050, and expands to all sectors of the economy a previous mandate to reduce the use of liquid fossil fuels for heating by 30 percent by 2030.

A law signed by Colorado governor John Hickenlooper will lower permit fees for solar installations, and is expected to save businesses and homeowners hundreds of dollars, Sustainable Business reports.

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