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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: GOP Green Projects, Retrofit Tax Incentives, Kansas Sues

Some high-profile Republicans who have attacked President Obama over his failed efforts to stimulate clean energy jobs with federal support have nonetheless written the Energy Department to request federal funding for green projects, The New York Times reported.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (pictured left) made personal appeals for $235 million in federal loans for an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Franklin, Ky., while critics of the program like Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich), Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), and Lamar Smith (R-TX) have also lobbied for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance.

The U.S. special climate change envoy said that the nation would not consider a global climate pact “genuinely binding” if it excluded large emerging economies like China and India or if those countries’ commitments were conditional upon financial support from developed countries, Reuters reported.  Todd Stern, the head of the country’s climate delegation, briefed reporters on the recent Major Economies Forum at the State Department, a continuing gathering of 17 of the world’s biggest emitters from the developing and developed world.

Top executives at the now-bankrupt solar firm Solyndra will exercise their Fifth Amendment rights and decline to answer questions during a House hearing on Friday, The Hill reported.  That company said that President Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer W.G. Stover Jr. were advised by their counsel not speak at the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight subcommittee hearing because of an ongoing investigation by the Justice Department.

The EPA announced that it has issued final air quality permits to Shell to begin oil and gas exploration drilling in the Chukuchi and Beaufort Seas in the Alaskan Arctic. The permits will allow Shell to operate a drillship and a fleet of icebreakers, oil spill response vessels, and supply ships for up to 120 days each year starting in 2012.  The EPA said the drilling fleet will emit more than 250 tons of air pollutants a year, which triggered the need for Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits.

Kansas has filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule arguing that state power plants were not given enough time to meet new limits on emissions of smog-forming gases, The New York Times reported.  Kansas was one of two additions to the rule’s emissions trading program based on modeling that showed its power plants make it more difficult for Michigan and other upwind areas to meet air quality standards. Meanwhile, the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club said the state’s attorney general is “wasting time,” according to The Lawrence Journal World.

A lawsuit challenging a small New York town’s ban on natural-gas drilling is being closely watched in the state where the Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended ending a year-long ban on hydraulic fracturing, Reuters reportedAnschutz Exploration Corp. filed suit on Friday against Dryden, a rural suburb of Ithaca with about 13,000 residents.

The White House will recommend that President Obama veto pending House legislation that would delay or kill two key EPA air-pollution rules, The Hill reported.  The House will vote later this week on a GOP-led measure that would mandate new interagency analyses of the cumulative economic effects of several EPA rules, including mercury standards for power plants and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

The EPA has issued a complaint against Monson Companies Inc. of Leominster, Mass., for alleged improper storage of hazardous materials at its chemical manufacturing and distribution facility in South Portland, Maine.  The agency said the company violated the Clean Air Act, the Maine Hazardous Waste Management rules, and the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act and faces a fine of up to $151,900.

The Canadian and Alberta governments said on Tuesday that they have formed a joint review panel to study a proposal by Royal Dutch Shell to expand its oil sands project by 100,000 barrels a day, Reuters reported.  The three-member panel will examine the environmental effects of the project.

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