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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Keystone XL Delayed, Solar Tariffs, EDF Hacking

The Obama administration announced Thursday that it will delay a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election, The New York Times reported. The State Department said it will review alternate routes that would avoid the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which is home to a large aquifer. The move is the latest in a series of delays on sensitive environmental matters as the president tries to avoid angering both the business lobby and environmentalists in the run up to to next year’s election.

The International Trade Coalition on Thursday ruled that the U.S. government has found adequate evidence of unfair export practices by Chinese solar manufacturers and will conduct a formal year-long investigation, Renewable Energy World reported. SolarWorld and six other companies have alleged that Chinese solar manufacturers have artificially lowered prices for their products, and the group is asking the U.S. to impose tariffs.

The EPA has announced a schedule to review and then act on more than 40 state plans to reduce to regional haze, Power Engineering reported. The agency is under court order to accept or reject state efforts to limit nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other particles and said it will finalize a rule by 2012 requiring plants to adopt the best available retrofit technology under any regional haze program.

The Energy Department’s shale gas advisory committee said in a draft report released Thursday that 20 recommendations it unveiled last summer are being ignored by industry and government, The Houston Chronicle reported. The panel of engineers, industry experts and scientists wrote that drillers have not moved on their advice to stop using diesel in fracturing fluids and study methane migration, while government has not written best practices rules.

A court in Paris fined France’s state energy firm EDF 1.5 million euros for spying on Greenpeace, The Guardian reported. EDF’s former head of nuclear production security, Pascal Durieux, was given a three-year sentence with two years suspended for leading the effort to hack Greenpeace’s computers to learn more about the group’s anti-nuclear agenda.

The EPA has granted the first Texas greenhouse gas permit to the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant in Llano County, Environmental Protection reported. The plant will replace a 37-year-old boiler with a natural gas unit.

Canada will cut more than $200 million in funding for environmental research, including the country’s internationally renowned ozone monitoring network, The Guardian reported. The network that discovered the first ozone hole over Canada will be entirely shut down. The cuts come as Canada has decided to spend billions of dollars more on its military.

Chinese airlines said Thursday that they will take the European Union to court over its plan to force international carriers to purchase emissions permits, Bloomberg reported. The country’s air industry association said it will file suit in Germany.

The city of Fort Collins, Colo., is floating a plan to phase out the use of corn-based ethanol in its fleet vehicles, The Coloradan reported. Most members of the City Council said they would support a measure to cut use of E85 fuel because of the negative environmental impact of increased corn production.

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