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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Energy Department Probe, Arizona Copper Mining, Cape Wind Setback

President Obama has promised House Republicans investigating the government’s aid to to the now-bankrupt solar firm Solyndra that a former business executive will lead an independent probe of the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, The New York Times reported. At the same time, the White House said it would oppose any subpoena of additional internal records related to Solyndra.

Environmental groups said this weekend that they will give more time to the EPA to write the first-ever regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants without challenging the delay in court, Reuters reported. Several environmental groups and states. including California and New York, had sued the agency to issue new rules, which were originally slated for release in June.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill to open land for large-scale copper mining in Arizona. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said new copper mining in the state will create three thousand jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue.

A federal appeals court has reversed a key approval for the Cape Wind wind farm in Nantucket Sound, The Boston Globe reported. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Federal Aviation Administration failed to adequately review the safety of flight paths over 25 square miles of 440 feet tall wind turbines that often will be shrouded in Cape Cod’s notorious fog.

This week, twenty-six countries will formally protest a European Union law to force international airlines to buy carbon permits to offset their emissions, Reuters reported. The countries are expected to lodge their complaint through the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is meeting in Montreal on Wednesday. The House of Representatives has passed a bill making it illegal for airlines to participate in Europe’s carbon permitting scheme.

The Illinois Legislature has once again failed to pass a measure authorizing Tenaska Energy’s proposed $3.6 billion coal-to-gas electric generating plant in Taylorville, The Quad City Times reported.

There were two big energy announcements from the United Kingdom on Monday. The energy ministry said it will cut in half state subsidies for solar panel plans of up to 50 kW and will impose minimum energy efficiency standards on buildings applying for solar feed-in tariffs, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the ministry said it approved a 1,500 MW gas-fired power plant to be built by U.S.-based Acorn Energy and a 108-MW biomass and waste power plant proposed by Scottish utility SSE.

Belgium’s political parties said Monday that they have reached a conditional agreement to shut down the country’s two remaining nuclear power plants, Reuters reported. Both plants are owned by GDF-Suez, a unit of Electrabel, and would be completely decommissioned by 2025 under the plan.

The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance announced a new integrated planning process for cash-strapped municipalities to adopt plans to improve aging infrastructure and control releases of wastewater and stormwater runoff.

The EPA approved the the construction of tailings ponds for the proposed Piñon Ridge Uranium and Vanadium Mill in southwestern Colorado, The Denver Post reported. The mill, to be built by Energy Fuels Inc. still needs one major state air pollution permit, as well as minor local permits, and could be delayed by a federal court ruling that temporarily enjoins uranium leasing and mining in the area.

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