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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Ethanol Deal, Light Bulbs, Mont. Pulls Out of Spill Clean-Up

Senators yesterday announced a compromise proposal to end a major tax break for the ethanol industry while extending incentives for production of cellulosic ethanol, for ethanol blender pumps at gas stations, and for small ethanol producers, the Hill reports. At a House subcommittee hearing, witness criticized the scientific and technical evaluations used by the EPA in making its decision to permit ethanol blends of up to 15 percent. Heather White, Chief of Staff and General Counsel for the Environmental Working Group, told the energy and environment subcommittee of the committee on science, space and technology that “E15 and higher ethanol blends could have significant adverse impacts on human and environmental health.”

The California Air Resources Board yesterday released a discussion draft that includes additional details of the state’s cap-and-trade program and mandatory reporting regulations. The draft proposals cover a range of program elements including allowances, market oversight, enforcement and offsets.  The details will be discussed at a workshop on July 15. Later in the summer there will be a formal public comment and review period. More information can be found here.

Quebec is following California’s lead in postponing until 2013 the date that companies need to start complying with the province’s cap-and-trade program, Point Carbon reports. Officials have unveiled draft regulations to govern the carbon market in Quebec, which is one of four Canadian provinces and seven U.S. states looking to coordinate their market activities through the Western Climate Initiative.

New Hampshire governor John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would have ended the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Reuters reports. Lynch said the move would have had environmental consequences and would have cost the state $16 million in revenue from carbon auctions.

House Republicans have introduced legislation to repeal the nation’s light bulb efficiency law, the Hill reports. The bill would repeal sections of the 2007 law that require incandescent bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient starting next year. The GOP hopes to bring the bill to the floor for a vote next week.

Montana governor Brian Schweitzer has pulled out of a joint oil spill command center directed by the EPA to deal with the Exxon Mobil oil spill on the Yellowstone River, the Wall Street Journal reports. Schweitzer accused Exxon of withholding information from officials and the press, and said the company was largely controlling the clean-up effort.

The House yesterday approved a Republican-led amendment that would block the Defense Department from enforcing a ban on federal use of alternative fuels with higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fossil fuels, the Hill says.

Critics have come out swinging against the EPA’s Air Transport Rule, designed to limit SO2 and NOX emissions that send smog into neighboring states. “By issuing multiple regulations for the energy and other sectors at such an accelerated rate, EPA has turned regulation from a manageable tool into an unpredictable moving target that makes it difficult for companies to invest and create jobs,” House energy and commerce committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said the regulation, in combination with other EPA rules, would be among the most expensive ever imposed by the agency on coal-fueled power plants. But Albert Rizzo of the American Lung Association said, “Today’s finalization of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is a vital component of the EPA’s effort to protect the health of millions of Americans who live downwind of power plants that belch out life-threatening pollution.”

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