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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: NJ Target Cut, China Subsidy, Methane MOU

New Jersey governor Chris Christie yesterday announced plans to scale back the state’s targets under its renewable portfolio standard, the New York Times reports. Christie wants to revise the amount of electricity that has to be derived from renewable sources by 2021, from 30 percent down to 22.5 percent. The changes are part of an overhaul of the state’s 10-year energy master plan, which the Times said had been expected since Christie asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to re-evaluate the goals last year. The latest news follows Christie’s decision to pull the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the only mandatory cap-and-trade system in the U.S.

China has agreed to end a subsidy for home-grown wind power manufacturers, which the Obama administration alleged was a violation of World Trade Organization rules, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said yesterday. The U.S. wind industry had blamed the subsidy for blocking its access to the booming Chinese renewables development market, even as cheaper Chinese wind turbines make inroads on American soil. The United Steelworks, which had urged the White House intervention, applauded the news but warned, “Our union membership, American workers and our nation face many more distortions and other clear WTO violations of obligations by the Chinese.”

In a letter to House speaker John Boehner (R-OH), 109 House Democrats called for the elimination of billions in oil industry tax breaks as a means of reducing the national deficit, the Hill reports.

Tomorrow the Senate committee on energy and natural resources will hear testimony on three bills intended to promote energy efficiency and alternative fuel vehicles: S. 963, the Reducing Federal Energy Dollars Act of 2011; S. 1000, a bill to promote energy savings in residential and commercial buildings and industry; and S. 1001, the Alternative Fuel Vehicles Competitiveness and Energy Security Act of 2011.

The Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that a State Department analysis of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline is “insufficient” and does not give enough weight to the project’s environmental impacts, especially airborne emissions and effects on groundwater. The project would extend an existing pipeline in order to carry oil sands from Alberta to Texas, the Hill says. The State Department will take the EPA comments into account as it works to finalize a long-running, multi-agency review of Keystone XL.

The EPA and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on energy and public health issues through methane reductions in the solid waste sector. EPA said its partnership with ISWA will allow increased access to professional networks and technical expertise, and opportunities for information exchange through the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), a public-private partnership that seeks to advance use of methane as an energy source.

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