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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: CASE Report, Solyndra Probe, Keystone XL, Halliburton

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) has found that levying 100-percent import duties on Chinese-made solar cells and modules may cost more than 60,000 U.S. solar industry and other jobs. Petitioners SolarWorld Industries America have requested tariffs up to 250 percent on Chinese-manufactured products in response to allegations of government subsidies and below-cost pricing, CASE said.

Committee members involved in the Solyndra probe are meeting this week to discuss failed solar company and consider contempt charges against the White House over its response to last year’s subpoena for documents. White House officials say they have been responsive to Energy Committee’s subpoena issued in November, as well as earlier document requests, The Hill reports.

More than 40 senators unveiled legislation Monday that would bypass the Obama administration and force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. At the same time, The Hill reports, Republicans are pressuring the Senate Finance Committee to include language in a must-pass payroll tax cut extension that would approve the pipeline. In the House, leadership is considering a bill that would give the final decision on the pipeline to the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, rather than the State Department. The House may also attach language that would overturn the pipeline decision in its three drilling and infrastructure bills focused on Alaska, the Gulf and the Pacific, expected to be approved today.

A federal judge said BP must indemnify Halliburton for third-party compensatory claims under their contract, even if Halliburton is found grossly negligent, as pollution did not originate from Halliburton property located above the land or water. Halliburton would still be responsible for punitive damages, as well as civil fines under the Clean Water Act, but is not liable for some pollution claims, Reuters reports.

The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will meet today to hear “Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.” The commission has been reviewing the nuclear waste issue at the request of President Obama after his decision to halt work on an evaluation of a waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

Palm-oil biodiesel, primarily a product of Malaysia and Indonesia, doesn’t meet the EPA requirements for its renewable fuels program because its greenhouse-gas emissions are too high. A 20-percent reduction is necessary to qualify, and palm-oil biodiesel achieves reductions of as much as 17 percent compared to traditional diesel fuel, Bloomberg reports.

The EU said it has partially activated a regional database for carbon transactions to enable the transfer of free allowances to airlines. Aircraft operators can open accounts in the EU’s single carbon registry, but transfers will only begin when the registry is fully operational, perhaps as soon as June, Bloomberg reports.

The European Parliament is hearing a proposed law that would restrict fuel used by passenger ships in Europe to that containing one-tenth of one percent sulfur as of 2020. A preliminary vote in the European Parliament on the draft legislation was postponed till about Feb. 16, the New York Times said.

The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will collect data on carbon emissions from airports and airlines and compile a national carbon inventory for the civil aviation sector. DGCA has also asked for emissions from aircraft engines, support power units and vehicles, writes the Times of India.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a grant of about $750,000 to lay the groundwork for a cap-and-trade emission trading system (ETS) in China’s Tianjin municipal area. The ADB’s assistance includes a $200,000 grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund as well as a $550,000 grant from the Climate Change Fund. Pilot emission trading schemes are also planned in five other municipalities and provinces, writes FutureGov.

Average household water and sewage bills in England and Wales are forecast to increase by 5.7 percent, or about $30, the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) said. The price hike takes into account a 5.2-percent inflation rate, and is about ten percent less than the increase requested by companies.

Ireland has launched its first Green Public Procurement Action Plan – Green Tenders – a joint effort of the environment ministry and the public expenditure and reform ministry. The initial action plan has focused on eight priority areas: Construction, Energy, Transport, Food and Catering Services, Cleaning Products and Services, Paper, Uniforms and Textiles, and ICT.

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