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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Va. Offshore Wind, ‘Big Oil’ Repeal Fails, Germany Cuts Solar Tariffs

Virginia has approved a plan for the installation of a single 5 MW wind turbine off its coast. If it clears federal approval, construction of the 479-foot tall Gamesa turbine in the lower Chesapeake Bay could be the first offshore wind turbine in the U.S, Renewable Energy World writes.

The Senate turned back a Democratic bill to repeal $4 billion in tax subsidies to oil companies, despite President Obama stumping for the regulation. The Senate vote was 51-47, short of the 60 votes necessary. Two Republicans voted to proceed to the legislation, but four Democrats from Virginia, Louisiana, Nebraska and Alaska rejected the effort, the Associated Press said.

Germany’s parliament adopted steep cuts in subsidies for solar-generated electricity Thursday despite protests from the solar-panel manufacturing industry. The cuts reduce the tariffs by between 20 and nearly 30 percent, and for some owners take effect April 1, Europe Online writes.

Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 7 percent in 2011, putting it on track to meet its internationally binding Kyoto targets. In 2011, the UK emitted 549.3 million tons of CO2e, down 28 percent from emissions in 1990, Reuters said.

The Canadian government said it would impose a maximum 24-month limit on regulatory hearings for pipelines and mines. Hearings by the National Energy Board, the federal energy regulator, will be capped at 18 months and standard environmental assessments will take no more than 12 month, Reuters said.

The Department of the Interior has announced steps to assess conventional and renewable energy resource potential in the mid- and south Atlantic. The draft programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), which has been released for public comment, will help inform future decisions about energy leasing in these areas, North American Windpower said.

The DOI Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has approved Shell’s oil spill response plan for exploration in the Beaufort Sea, with drilling to begin as soon as this summer, The Hill said.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals directed the EPA to review previously rejected Texas state pollution control projects. The agency was ordered to make a quick decision about the state permits, which govern projects at coal plants and energy producers, the Associated Press said.

House Republicans have requested more information about the number of jobs created by the Treasury Department’s Section 1603 tax grant, which expired in 2011. In particular, the recent letters to the Treasury and Energy Departments seek more information on the DOE claim that the grants have created tens of thousands of jobs, The Hill said.

The House Natural Resources Committee voted Wednesday to subpoena the Obama administration for documents about an offshore drilling safety report and planned rules to limit environmental damage from Appalachian coal mining, The Hill said.

Forward of Manteca, Calif., has agreed to a settlement to resolve alleged violations of air pollution laws at its landfill in Manteca. The company will spend about $3.8 million to improve the landfill’s gas collection and control system and to replace trucks in the landfill’s fleet with less polluting vehicles. Forward has also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $200,000, the EPA said.

Coltec Industries and National Steel and Shipbuilding Company have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $280,000 and spend approximately $500,000 on a project at Coltec’s Beloit, Wis., engine manufacturing facility. The project will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from a testing stack to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and EPA’s marine diesel engine air rules, the agency said.

BOSFuel and Swissport Fueling, operators of an oil storage facility at Boston’s Logan Airport, will pay a $90,000 penalty for failing to properly prepare a Facility Response Plan (FRP) for possible spills, in violation of federal oil pollution prevention regulations issued under the Clean Water Act.  The operators failed an unannounced  drill in May 2011, the EPA said.

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