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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EU ETS, Keystone XL, China Seeks Environmental Investment, MATS

European Union lawmakers backed a proposal to allow the EU Commission to  support low carbon investments by withholding 1.4 billion permits from the third phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The vote is the first of three ballots that could lead to a cut of 8 percent in the supply of permits during the 2013-2020 trading phase; all 27 national EU governments must agree to changes before they can become law, Reuters reports.

The House rejected a bipartisan Senate compromise to extend a payroll tax cut for two months, along with unemployment benefits. With a 229-193 vote, the House set aside the Senate bill and requested a formal conference with the Senate, writes the Washington Post. Approval processes for the TransCanada Keystone XL project are embedded in the legislation.

China is looking for $536 billion in investments to protect the environment through 2015, Bloomberg reports. The government plans to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 8 percent, raise the ratio of non-fossil fuels as part of total energy use, lower the ratio for coal, and add 42 million tons of daily sewage treatment capacity from 2011 through 2015.

The EPA is expected to publically unveil its MATS regulations today, standards aimed at curbing mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants. The long-delayed final regulations would require plant operators to install technology that reduces emissions of mercury and other air toxics, writes The Hill.

The Department of Interior has approved of two utility-scale renewable energy projects — one wind and one solar —totaling nearly 500 MW of power. DOI approved the 300 MV Sonoran Solar Energy Project on public lands in Arizona and the 186 MW Tule Wind Project. It also granted right-of-way for the Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Transmission Line and asked for comment from other developers interested in constructing transmission facilities in this area in order to determine whether there is overlapping competitive interest.

The U.S. Coast Guard investigated a 13,000-gallon spill from a Shell-leased oil rig, operating about 26 miles southeast of last year’s BP Macondo oil well disaster. The spillage was stopped and remedial action has been approved by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which includes temporarily abandoning the well for repairs, Reuters said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted a modified wetlands-fill permit that will allow ConocoPhillips to build a road, bridge and above-ground pipeline connecting its CD-5 project with the Alpine oil field on state land just east of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska on the western North Slope. The wetlands-fill permit — initially denied to ConocoPhillips two years ago — is the last major government authorization that ConocoPhillips needs to build CD-5, Reuters said.

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