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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Manufacturing Tax Credit, Natural Gas Drilling, Ener1 Chapter 11, Tier 3 Emissions

The White House has released more details about the manufacturing efficiency incentives that President Obama announced in his State of the Union address Thursday. The proposed $5 billion in incentives aren’t new, but – if passed by Congress – are an extension to the Recovery Act’s Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit awarding a 30 percent rebate on qualified investments. Legislation was introduced this week extend the credit.

On the second day of a five-state, three-day tour, President Barack Obama stumped for a plan to boost U.S. use of natural gas and open more land for drilling. Obama also said investing in renewable energy like wind and solar power – instead of subsidizing the oil sector – would help reduce America’s dependence on exports to fuel its cars, trucks and factories. Reuters reports.

New York-based Ener1, a maker of lithium-ion batteries for plug-in electric cars, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing as a reason that the company was affected by competing battery developers in China and South Korea. Ener1’s EnerDel unit, based in Indianapolis, was awarded a $118-million economic stimulus grant from the DOE, and has received about $55 million of its grant so far, Bloomberg reports.

The British Department Energy and Climate Change (DECC) lost a bid to overturn a High Court ruling that it was unlawful to cut subsidies for solar panels on homes earlier than scheduled. Last year, Britain installed around 3 percent of the world’s new solar panels, and in an effort to preserve state funds for renewable energy, the government aimed to reduce feed-in tariff rates, Reuters reports.

Amid pressure for the European Parliament to intervene in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an industry committee expected to debate next month a proposal to correct an oversupply. However, a leaked draft of the document did not contain language supporting intervention to bolster the carbon market, Reuters reports.

The Industry Task Team on Climate Change (ITTCC) – a lobby group of large mining multinationals and mineral processing companies including Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP Billiton, Exxaro, PPC, Rio Tinto and Xstrata – is cautioning against the proposed introduction of a carbon tax in South Africa until South Africa has fully charted its abatement potential and the costs implications of a renewable-energy heavy power generation plan, writes Engineering News.

The Clean Air Watch has released a letter to the EPA from seven Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic state environmental commissioners, urging action on the establishment of the new Tier 3 vehicle tailpipe pollution and cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline standards, and to finalize the rule in 2012. The letter says that the Tier 3/low sulfur gasoline program would reduce NOx emissions in the Ozone Transport Region by more than 50,000 tons per year in 2017, and a national standard would reduce NOx emissions by more than 175,000 tons per year, or 500 tons per day, by 2017 across the eastern United States. The reductions would translate to between $235 million and $1.2 billion in direct public health benefits annually in the region.

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