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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Ethanol Cuts, South Africa Carbon Fines, Cuba Offshore Drilling

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) introduced an amendment to the chamber’s 2012 agriculture appropriations bill on Tuesday that would block the government from funding gas station “blender” pumps that produce an ethanol fuel mixture, Reuters reported. In addition, the corn ethanol industry and oil companies already will likely lose $6 billion a year in subsidies when a blenders’ tax credit expires this year.

South Africa will fine its largest emitters of carbon dioxide if they do not fall below newly established pollution caps, Reuters reported on Tuesday.  Africa’s largest economy has plans to cut emissions by 34 percent over the next decade, even though the country is almost fully reliant on coal.

Despite the onslaught of criticism from the GOP in the House of Representatives in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy, one Republican Senator has offered to support to the Energy Department’s green energy loan program, The Hill reported. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) (pictured left), the minority chair of the Senate’s energy committee, said she does not want the government to “pull the plug” on the loan program.

World Bank group said Tuesday that will provide $60 million in equity financing to start-up companies that sell goods and services aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, Reuters reported.

The Obama administration has taken the unusual step of negotiating with Spanish oil company Repsol to inspect its first offshore drilling rig off the coast of Cuba, The Hill reported. The White House is concerned that a spill could hit the U.S. coast, but cannot participate in safety and environmental discussions because of the trade embargo against the communist nation.

A new study predicted that China’s wind power capacity, already the world’s largest, could reach 1,000 gigawatts by 2050, Reuters reported. The study by the National Development and Reform Commission said that if China reached that capacity, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 gigatonnes per year.

In the U.S., Texas set a new record for wind-power output earlier this month, according to Reuters. The amount of electricity produced from wind on the afternoon of Oct. 7 set a record at 7,400 megawatts, more than 78 percent of the 9,400 MW of installed wind capacity in the state. Texas leads the nation in wind turbine capacity and plans are in the works for new coastal wind farms.

The Senate unanimously passed a pipeline safety bill on Tuesday, increasing penalties for violations of regulations after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) released a hold on the measure, The Hill reported.

The EPA announced on Tuesday that Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., has agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its veterinary health products facility in St. Joseph, Mo.  The agency alleges that leaks of ozone-depleting refrigerants occurred at that facility.

It is not a foregone conclusion that European Union will classify Canada’s vast oil reserves in the tar sands of Alberta as a dirty source of energy, Reuters reported. The EU’s executive commission has proposed classifying that crude from tar sands as being too energy intensive to comply with the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions plan, but Canadian energy minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday that the EU will eventually agree that science supports the extraction method.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. has developed a $3 million plan to provide incentives to electric vehicles owners that install home charging stations under a settlement between the utility and the EPA over alleged Clean Air Act violations, The Associated Press reported. The proposal is under consideration by Indiana utility regulators.

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