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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: COP 17 Durban, Gulf Coast Task Force, Chevron Fined

Durban: The world’s biggest polluters -China, the United States and India – remain firmly against a new legal commitment to curb their carbon emissions. The nations want to put off a commitment on binding cuts until 2015 – until after the publication of additional scientific review on the effects of climate change and a chance to measure the results of national policies currently in place aimed at emissions reductions, Reuters said.

Durban: A draft proposal submitted by developing nations would support the Green Climate Fund with money raised by the shipping industry’s efforts to cut carbon emissions. The standards, which might include a carbon price per ton applied to shipping fuel, would be designed and implemented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO has not commented on the proposal, Reuters said.

The federal Gulf Coast Task Force recommends that a significant portion of the civil penalties collected from BP be used to pay for ecological restoration work in the Gulf. In its report, the task force reviewed a number of the region’s environmental concerns including stopping the loss of wetlands, reducing the flow of nutrients from the Mississippi watershed, and enhancing resiliency among coastal communities. The fines against BP may be in the range of $5.4 billion to $21 billion, the New York Times said.

Chevron faces a fine of $84 million from the Rio de Janeiro state for environmental damage from an offshore oil spill last month in the Campos Basin off Rio’s coast. The area will be monitored for two years, and Chevron also will have to pay for an environmental audit to assess its accident-response ability, FuelFix.com said.

Republicans are looking to move approval procedures of the $7 billion Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline away from the State Department and into the hands of an energy regulator, which would reduce scrutiny from an environmental review. House Republicans aim to include the procedural shift in the payroll tax cut bill, which is otherwise expected to pass through Congress in the next two weeks, and avoid opposition from Senate Democrats who have raised questions about Keystone XL, Reuters reports.

Alpha Natural Resources agreed to pay $209 million in restitution and civil and criminal penalties for the role of its subsidiary, Massey Energy, in a 2010 coal mine explosion that killed 29 people in West Virginia. A $46.5 million payout goes to victims and families; $80 million is allocated for safety and infrastructure at all of the corporation’s underground mines; $48 million establishes a mine health and safety foundation; and about $35 million of the total is for fines and fees owed to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the New York Times said.

The European Union’s highest court is expected to give its final ruling a European law that would force all airlines to pay for their carbon emissions on December 21, Reuters said. The EU wants all airlines using its airspace to enter scheme from January 1, 2012.

The Committee on Natural Resources is reviewing how a high case load of Endangered Species Act-related litigation affects species recovery. According to information provided to the Committee, Interior Department agencies currently have more than 180 pending ESA-related lawsuits, but in the past 38 years, only roughly one percent of the species listed under ESA have been recovered.

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