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Policy and Enforcement Briefing: Regulation Repeals, Exxon in the Arctic, Wind Energy

The leadership of the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives told its membership that it will seek to repeal or delay numerous of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “job-killing” regulations and proposed rules, The Hill reported.  Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is targeting national smog standards, the EPA’s proposals to strengthen standards for air toxics from industrial boilers, and power-plant rules on mercury and sulfur dioxide.

Exxon entered a landmark agreement with Russia to explore for oil in a portion of the country’s Arctic Ocean territory, even as U.S. waters off nearby Alaska remain mostly closed to drilling, The New York Times reported.  As part of the pact, Russia’s state-owned Rosneft oil company could become a part-owner of Exxon’s operations in the U.S., participaing in deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and learning the technique of hydraulic fracturing for use at home.

A bipartisan group of 24 governors is urging President Obama to take several administrative steps to support wind energy projects at a time when legislation to extend important tax credits is stalled in Congress, The Hill reported.  The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition wrote in a letter that the president should create a federal-state task force to expedite deployment, and refocus the Energy Department on aiding states rather than developing programs for “next-generation wind technologies.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that it is likely that the earthquake that prompted the shutdown of the North Anna Power Station in Virginia produced more force than the plant’s reactors were designed to withstand, according to a report in The Hill.  The NRC sent more inspectors to the plant on Monday.

The American Lung Association wrote a letter to the members of the debt “supercommittee” in Congress tasked with drastically trimming the nation’s deficit, urging the panel to spare the EPA’s budget from draconian cuts and resist policy riders that prevent the agency from implementing new pollution rules, The Hill reported.  Republicans on the panel, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), have been vocal advocates of slashing the EPA’s budget and authority.

China increased its targets on Tuesday for the amount of energy it aims to receive from renewable sources, Reuters reported.  The country plans to produce 100 gigawatts (GW) of on-grid wind power generating capacity by the end of 2015, up from its previous goal of 90 GW.

The EPA has approved a new use for a DuPont insecticide genetic trait for corn seeds that will fight above-ground pests only, according to Reuters.  The company won approval to sell its Optimum AcreMax Xtra insect protection in time for the 2012 growing season.  The insecticide will allow farmers to kill above-ground pests, while most other products on the market fight both above- and below-ground pests.

Landowners in Pennsylvania paid more than $100 million in state income tax in 2010 on money earned from royalties and leases from Marcellus shale natural gas drilling, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.  Lease and royalty income taxes are filling the state’s coffers more each year as the drilling boom continues.  The tax revenue totaled just $17 million in 2007.

The Canadian province of Alberta has released an updated land-use plan for its oil sands region, according to Reuters.  The proposal adjusts some of the boundaries of proposed conservation land, after oil companies complained that they would lose portions of oil sands leases, and delays policies to halt the spread of toxic tailings ponds.

The EPA announced that it plans to complete the non-cancer portion of its new risk assessment of dioxin by the end of January 2012. After completing that phase of the assessment, EPA will finalize the cancer portion of the dioxin reanalysis as quickly as possible, the agency said. The decision to split the dioxin assessment into two portions was recommended by the Science Advisory Board and the National Academy of Sciences.

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