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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Oil Reserve, Efficiency, EPA Bills

Obama administration officials announced yesterday that they will tap into the country’s strategic oil reserve to replace losses from the conflict in Libya and ensure the country has enough supplies to get through the summer. An Obama administration official says the release of 60 million barrels represents less than five percent of the reserve, the New York Times reports.

The House on Wednesday night passed H.R. 2021, The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, 253-166, with 23 Democrats and all but two Republicans in support. The bill would require the EPA to make drilling permit decisions within six months, and it would also ease some environmental standards, the Hill says.

On Wednesday the U.S. demanded that its airlines be exempt from an EU law which would add aviation to the industries included in the continent’s cap and trade system, Reuters reports.

The EPA has said that HR 2018, sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and ranking member Nick Rahall (D-WV) “would overturn almost 40 years of federal legislation by preventing EPA from protecting public health and water quality.” GOP leaders in the House expect to bring the bill to a floor vote this summer, the New York Times reports.

On Wednesday a bipartisan group of congressmen on the house energy and commerce committee introduced HR 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act. Business Roundtable said the legislation “is the right approach to forestall excessive, economy-damaging regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency of industrial boilers and incinerators… The bill provides a reasonable, balanced and cost-effective strategy to give the EPA time to set workable rules on the boilers.”

A bill that would restrict the export of certain e-waste to developing nations was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) Similar measures were introduced in 2009 and 2010 but neither advanced past the committee stage, Waste & Recycling News said.

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a law that would push private companies and public bodies to increase energy efficiency, with an aim of reducing the EU’s energy use by 20 percent by 2020. Germany’s finance minister immediately took a stand against the proposal, even though his government has said that energy efficiency is key to reducing consumption and helping the country to shut down its nuclear power plants, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Four Republicans and four Democrats from the house energy and commerce committee have unveiled HR 2250, a bill that would give the EPA more time to revise air pollution limits for industrial boilers, the New York Times reports.

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation that would require the president to make a permitting decision on TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline by Nov. 1, the Hill reports.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the identification of seven study sites, as the next step in its congressionally mandated review of hydraulic fracturing. Two of the sites – the Haynesville Shale in DeSoto Parish, La., and the Marcellus Shale in Washington County, Pa. – are prospective case studies where EPA will monitor the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well. Five retrospective case studies were also selected. In these areas the EPA will examine whether hydraulic fracturing has already had an impact on drinking water resources. In this part of the study, the EPA will again consider the Marcellus Shale in Washington County, as well as parts of that shale in Bradford and Susquehanna counties in Pennsylvania. The other restrospective studies are: Bakken Shale (Kildeer and Dunn Counties, N.D.), Barnett Shale (Wise and Denton Counties, Texas), and Raton Basin (Las Animas County, Colo.) The field work will begin in selected regions this summer.

The province of Alberta has announced that it is spending $15 million from its clean technology fund to support three renewable energy projects that aim to cut a total of 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 in 10 years, Point Carbon reported.

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