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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Votes on Keystone, Drilling and MACT; Obama Proposes Alt Fuel Tax Breaks for Business

A vote Thursday in the Senate to attach the Keystone XL oil pipeline project to a must-pass transportation bill failed 56 to 42; a vote on a measure to expand offshore drilling was also rejected. Opponents of the pipeline project accuse supporters of exaggerating the number of jobs it would create and dispute that it would bring down gas prices. The $109-billion, two-year transportation bill comes to the floor next week, the Los Angeles Times said.

The Senate defeated an amendment to delay and soften the EPA’s proposed boiler regulations, in a 52-46 vote. The legislation would have given the agency 15 months to propose new “achievable” rules that are the least burdensome on industry, according to The Hill.

Another amendment attached to the highway bill would grant a one-year extension of the wind industry’s Production Tax Credit and would for one year revive the solar industry’s recently expired Section 1603 Treasury Grant. It also includes incentives for cellulosic biofuel, biodiesel and renewable diesel, writes Renewable Energy World.

President Obama on Wednesday proposed a five-year tax break for companies buying commercial electric or natural gas trucks, with the tax relief equal to half the difference between the cost of the alternative-fuel truck and a conventionally fuelled equivalent, the New York Times reports. He also called for a $2,500 increase to a $7,500 tax credit for electric, hydrogen and natural gas vehicles, and expansion of the incentive to more technologies. And he said he would ask Congress to approve $1 billion for alternative fuel infrastructure projects in up to 15 cities.

The House approved legislation, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, that would make it easier for western states to develop hydropower in canals and ditches. The bill would exempt small hydropower installations from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, The Hill said.

EU Environment ministers meeting in Brussels today are likely to urge the EU’s executive to look at practical ways to drive green investment, but to stop short of calling for intervention to prop up carbon permits. European Union politicians last month voted in favor of withholding permits from the bloc’s Emissions Trading Scheme, to try to support a market that is too weak to encourage low carbon investment. Also on the agenda is the international dispute over the inclusion of airlines in the EU’s carbon trading scheme, Reuters said.Also in Brussels, Poland may veto the environment council’s 2050 roadmap to a low carbon economy and has lobbied other EU environment ministers to do the same, Reuters said.

Failing to implement environment legislation is estimated to cost the EU economy around €50 billion ($66 billion) every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment, the European Commission said, in a communication intended to focus debate on the implementation of environmental legislation and help prepare the ground for the 7th Environmental Action Programme.

Ecuador judge Nicolas Zambrano, who ruled against Chevron Corp. in an $18 billion environmental damage case sought by 30,000 Amazon rainforest residents, has been dismissed for improperly freeing an alleged drug trafficker, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press. Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001, has refused to recognize last year’s verdict, calling the case fraudulent and the Ecuadorean legal system corrupt, the Washington Post reports.

China’s industry minister said China will tear down obsolete polluting factories rather than relocate them to other provinces or neighboring countries. The country’s central and western provinces are sometimes eager for the economic boost such a relocation may bring, but neighboring countries have voiced concerns about the import of the factories, Reuters said.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that broadens the definition of renewable energy. The new law makes electricity produced from older biomass facilities, such as pulp mills, eligible for the state’s renewable energy I-937 mandate starting in 2016, CBS News reports.

The Bonneville Power Administration has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to address the oversupply issues that caused it to curtail 350 MW of wind energy generation last spring in the Pacific Northwest. BPA says its new plan attempts to equitably share oversupply costs and limit total cost exposure, North American Windpower said.

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One thought on “Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Votes on Keystone, Drilling and MACT; Obama Proposes Alt Fuel Tax Breaks for Business

  1. The Wyden Amendment makes sense. We are the ones taking a risk of an oil spill on our homeland from the Keystone XL Pipeline, so all the oil it transports should stay here. And the pipeline should be built and be maintained by American workers — with American made materials.
    Otherwise, we would be relegating our land to be a 30 year stepping stone for Canada to transport its dirty oil to foreign markets.
    Moreover, the Wyden Amendment should be used as a model for all offshore and public land drilling. If our country incurs the long term risk of a spill, then it should also get the maximum benefit.
    The “free market” will have to take a back seat on this one.
    Our environment ain’t free — even to the free market.

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