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Policy and Regulatory Briefing: Light Bulb Redux, Calif. Carbon Futures, Lead Testing

The House on Friday took up the light bulb standards issue again, and this time the GOP-led campaign against 2007 energy efficiency laws won. The House approved, by voice vote, a measure that will prohibit 2012 spending bill funds from being used to implement standards for energy efficient lighting products, the Hill said.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) testified last week before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that he believes the EPA is encouraging environmental groups to file lawsuits against “undesirable” aspects of politically sensitive proposed regulation, according to The New York Times. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president William Kovacs agreed, telling the committee that “sue and settle” has been used by the agency for at least 16 rules in recent years.

Pitting competitiveness against smog rules, senior officials with the Business Roundtable, the American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday met with EPA chief Lisa Jackson, according to the Hill, in an effort to convince the administrator to wait until 2013 to propose new standards. The group also sent a letter to the White House Chief of Staff.

The House on Friday approved a 2012 appropriations bill for the Department of Energy, the Hill reports. H.R. 2354, which was passed by a 219-196 vote, provides $30.6 billion for the DOE and related agencies, about $1 billion under FY 2011 levels.

Green Exchange, an emission exchange based in New York, will offer futures contracts for California carbon allowances starting on Sept. 11, according to Bloomberg. The contracts will be for delivery at the end of 2012, 2013, and 2014.

China is planning a pilot emissions trading program, the official Xinhua news agency said (via Reuters). The country’s government is also looking at laws and regulations to encourage energy conservation, Xinhua said.

A Pennsylvania advisory panel has suggested that Gov. Corbett opt for a local impact fee and not a tax on natural gas extraction in the state. Philly.com reported Friday that the 30-member panel comprised of industry representatives and administrative staff also endorsed “pooling,” which, under certain circumstances, allows a drilling company to force landowners to lease their below-ground gas rights.

NOAA and several partners on Monday launched a year-long effort to improve forecasts of the winds at 350 feet above the Earth’s surface through the Wind Forecast Improvement Project. Working with NOAA are the energy department, AWS Truepower, LLC and WindLogics, Inc. The $6 million project seeks to improve the basic wind forecast for all users, including wind power and conventional energy companies, the aviation industry and the general public.

A bill that would ease restrictions on geothermal energy exploration on federal lands passed a house committee last week and is expected to be brought before the full House in the fall. The Spokesman Review said H.R. 2171 would allow test wells to be exempt from an additional environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Gregory Jaczko is encouraging a quick, three-month review of a federal task force report covering potential safety regulations for nuclear power plants, according to the Hill. Although no threats have been identified, the report recommends sweeping changes.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled last week that Entergy Corp., owner of Indian Point nuclear power plant, must provide a “more thorough” analysis of its accident mitigation measures if it wants to be relicensed, according to Bloomberg.

The EPA has axed a proposed rule that would have required contractors performing renovations to test for lead in the dust at their construction sites, the New York Times reports. The EPA’s final rule on the matter is here.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill on Friday that will require those who extract natural gas from Texas shale to disclose the ingredients of hydraulic fracturing to the Texas Railroad Commission. UPI reported that both West Virginia and Michigan have announced new legislation for shale.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hear testimony on the recent report of the MIT Energy Initiative, “The Future of Natural Gas”, and on Thursday the committee will hold a business meeting to consider the Oil and Gas Facilitation Act of 2011 and the Outer Continental Shelf Reform Act of 2011.

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