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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: RFS2 2012, Keystone XL, SolarWorld, Aviation Carbon Tax

The EPA finalized the Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2) 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories as part of the annual renewable fuel volume targets intended to achieve an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. The 2012 overall volumes and standards are: biomass-based diesel (1.0 billion gallons; 0.91 percent); advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21 percent); cellulosic biofuels (8.65 million gallons; 0.006 percent); total renewable fuels (15.2 billion gallons; 9.23 percent).

TransCanada Corp. says construction on its Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas – except for a 62-mile stretch through Nebraska – may begin within months now that U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a bill that forces his administration to make a decision on the project within 60 days, writes The Globe and Mail.

The Obama administration confirmed that a 60-day window for approval would likely lead to the cancellation of the proposed Keystone XL. Canada’s oil sands contain an estimated 1.75 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, the world’s second-largest known deposit of oil, but its extraction, transportation and refining is an energy-intensive process that produced 15 to 80 percent more life-cycle carbon emissions than average petroleum products, writes the New York Times.

AWEA still hopes for an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy – which was not included in the package to extend the payroll tax cut – citing a bill that has won bipartisan backing in the House. The bill to extend the wind production tax credit, currently set to expire at the end of 2012, has the support of 25 Democrats and 11 Republicans, writes The Hill.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that it will take until February to conduct its investigation of charges against the Chinese government for subsidies to the solar industry, delaying a preliminary decision by about a month. Many companies that install solar panels in the U.S. are opposed to the potential for duties on imports and have urged Solar World to drop the case, Reuters reports.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has said that a trade war focused on the EU’s aviation carbon tax would be difficult to avoid, while its Foreign Ministry remains opposed to the rule, urging the EU to consult with other governments about the next step. The European Court of Justice ruled last week against a group of U.S. airlines that challenged a European law, Reuters said.

Brazil’s environment inspector fined Chevron Corp an additional $5.4 million for Chevron’s failure to adhere to the Individual Emergency Plan set out in the environmental license that it needs to operate during the November spill. Chevron said it properly followed the emergency plan. The fines are small when compared to the $11 billion lawsuit Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors are trying to bring against the company, writes Reuters.

The Justice Department named BDO Consulting to conduct an independent audit of the $20 billion fund created to compensate people and businesses for financial losses related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The compensation fund has paid over $6 billion in claims, but lawmakers in Gulf Coast states have complained about a lack of transparency, slow speeds of review and inconsistent processing of claims, writes the Federal Times.

The USDA has cleared for sale Monsanto’s genetically engineered, drought resistant corn. The drought-tolerant crop variety was part of a collaboration with German chemical company BASF. Monsanto said it planned farm trials in the western U.S. Plains in 2012, Reuters said.

Three House Democrats on Tuesday called on the Department of Energy to increase the Northeast oil reserve to two million barrels amid concerns that recent refinery closures to prevent an increase in costs for home heating during the winter months. The call from Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Representatives follows plans announced by ConocoPhillips and Sunoco to idle three Pennsylvania oil refineries, writes The Hill.

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