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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: All-of-the-Above Energy, Calif. Safer Consumer Products Regs, Deepwater Horizon

At the University of Miami, President Obama gave his first remarks on rising gasoline prices, saying that the U.S. is producing more oil now than at any time during the last eight years. But Obama said a three-point plan – drill, drill, and keep drilling – would not lead to lower gas prices because levels of domestic production are not the crux of the issue, the New York Times reported. Speaking to the students, the president promoted the Energy Department’s cost-cutting Industrial Assessment Program, which supports university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) that have helped participating manufacturers save more than $5.6 billion in energy costs, EERE said. As well, President Obama also announced funding to prod breakthrough technologies for natural gas and biofuels as part of his all-of-the-above energy strategy. Obama said $30 million will fund breakthrough natural nas vehicles technologies, and $14 million will support development of transportation fuels from algae, EERE said.

The State Department said that the U.S. has not yet decided whether to join countries opposed to the EU law requiring airlines to pay for greenhouse gas emissions.  More than 20 countries agreed in Moscow this week on possible retaliatory actions, including retaliatory levies on EU airlines and shutting down talks with them on new routes, Reuters reports.

California officials are drafting regulations that could require product manufacturers to use alternative, safer chemicals or risk their product being banned from sale in the state. The Safer Consumer Products (SCP) regulations support the state’s Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI), which would establish an immediate list of roughly 3,000 so-called chemicals of concern. An informal version of the SCP regulations was released in October 2011, writes Law & Industry Daily.

The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial begins Monday in New Orleans federal court. The non-jury trial follows more than 300 depositions and 72 million pages of evidence, and will assign blame for the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The trial’s third phase will assess clean-up efforts and environmental damage, Reuters said.

Germany is accelerating its plan to reduce solar power subsidies, changing the latest adjustment date from July 1 to March 9. The incentives will fall to 19.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for small plants up to 10 kilowatt (KW), to 16.5 cents for plants up to 1,000 KW and to 13.5 cents for plants of up to 10 megawatts (MW). After that there will be further monthly cuts of 0.15 cents per kWh, Reuters said.

The Energy and Power Subcommittee is asking that the EPA disclose the cost of the Utility MACT regulation and that the White House ensure the agency adheres to Executive Order 13563, which requires agencies to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated costs of regulations. The EPA has given annualized compliance costs for 2015, 2020, and 2030 but the not the full costs, the committee said.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is questioning the EPA on its legal discretion to revise certain regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), particularly regulations regarding the disposal of coal ash. The request comes as environmental groups prepare to sue over the agency’s failure to perform alleged nondiscretionary duties under the RCRA.

The Battery Recycling Company in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, will take a series of corrective actions related to alleged hazardous waste violations under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The factory, which produces 60 tons of lead per day, must make corrections to control the lead dust as well as support about $480,000 in community projects, the EPA said.

The USDA announced a new conservation initiative to protect up to 750,000 acres of highly erodible croplands – land with an erodibility index of 20 or greater. The program will assist producers in planting wildlife-friendly, long-term cover through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

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