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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: COP 17 Durban, SolarWorld, Better Buildings Challenge, Boiler MACT

Durban: U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres remains hopeful that countries can get past the years of gridlock to reach fresh, binding commitments to GHG reductions, Reuters said. The remarks follow news that China could join legally binding emissions targets after 2020. A researcher from China’s Energy Research Institute in Beijing said that China may agree to define a limit GHG emissions after 2020 depending upon the results of the Durban talks and China’s level of development at that time, ChinaDaily.com said. The U.S. is skeptical that China’s comments in support of binding cuts to its GHG emissions marked a breakthrough in Durban climate talks, and also has not voiced support for the EU’s plan for a climate agreement, Reuters said. Meanwhile, Japan that it support a plan such as the EU’s, which aims to reach a global pact on cuts by 2015 to be in place by 2020. Japan also said that it would honor its pledges from Cancun to provide financing to the Green Climate Fund, Reuters said.

Bolivia spoke critically of the  Green Climate Fund for results-based payments by countries, and took issue with Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme (Redd) that would raise funds for forest preservation with carbon offsets. Bolivia said that it opposes the commoditization of the forest, said IOL News.

The U.S. International Trade Commission took a unanimous vote in support of the petition from SolarWorld, and the Commerce Department will continue its investigation in possible antidumping and countervailing duties tariffs on Chinese solar imports. China rejected the ruling, Bloomberg reports, citing a lack of sufficient evidence that the U.S. solar panel industry has been harmed.

Beijing will double the customer surcharge on power sales to subsidize renewable power generation, effective this month. The surcharge ups the tax to 0.008 yuan per kilowatt hour from 0.004 yuan per kwh, and will raise funds to support wind energy, Reuters said.

The EPA said its proposed Boiler MACT would cost industry about $2.3 billion a year, not the $3.8 billion in a previous proposal. The agency estimates that for every dollar spent to cut the pollutants, the public will save some $12 to $30 in health costs. About 196,000 boilers would require an annual tune-up to minimize toxic emissions, Bloomberg reports.

A DOE analysis of the finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants finds more stringent versions of future air-emission regulations do not threaten electric reliability, said FuelFix.com. The DOE reviewed standards much stricter than what the EPA is currently writing.

Brazilian prosecutors are investigating the possible involvement of state-led oil company Petrobras in a November offshore oil spill in the Frade field northeast of Rio de Janeiro operated by Chevron, Reuters said. Chevron has a 52 percent stake in the field, and Petrobras owns a 30 percent stake in the field. Brazilian law says that all owners of an oil field or exploration concession are co-responsible for any damages or accidents in their field.

The Natural Resources Committee will hold a full-committee oversight hearing on “The Endangered Species Act: How Litigation is Costing Jobs and Impeding True Recovery Efforts,” today at 10 a.m. The hearing is open to the public and available via live video stream.

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