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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Calif. Renewable Auctions, Oil Sands Protests, Canada Coal Rules

The California Public Utilities Commission has given unanimous approval to the Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM), a program under which developers will bid on the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE) that they can afford, Greentech Media reports.. The program is designed to support small to mid-sized renewable energy development and will require big California utilities to buy electricity from projects of 1.5 to 20 MW.

More than 100 tar sands protesters have been arrested for gathering on the White House sidewalk over the weekend, the Vancouver Sun said. The acts of civil disobedience, which are set to continue over the next two weeks, are designed to pressure President Obama into rejecting a permit allowing TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.

A change in regulations and some data entry mistakes are being blamed for a greater amount of fluid and solid wastes being reported from Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania, the Times-Tribune said. State rules now require operators to report the wastewater they reuse or recycle, not just the waste that is disposed of, during the six-month reporting period.

Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent has proposed regulations that would require coal-fired power generation to reduce emissions to levels comparable to those of high efficiency gas-fired plants, Reuters said. The regulations will be published on Aug. 27.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence is blocking plans for hundreds of wind turbines across a large area of northwest England and southwest Scotland, the Guardian reports.. The turbines’ “seismic noise” will prevent the MoD’s seismological recording station at Eskdalemuir, Scotland, from detecting nuclear explosions around the world, the ministry says.

The technical staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have 45 days to review safety reforms suggested by a federal task force, the Hill said. Their recommendations on safety issues are due by Oct. 3, but the staff will have 18 months to consider changes to the commission’s regulatory framework.

A Congressional Research Service report acknowledges that EPA regulations will force many coal plants to close through 2017, but also says the benefits are greater than the cost, including those related to health care and saving lives, the Daily Mail said. The report also suggests that the replacement of inefficient plants with efficient natural gas plants would occur anyway if fuel prices continue to be low.

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