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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chevron, Mexico Low-Carbon Bill, Oil Market Speculation

Here’s the latest policy, enforcement and legal news affecting corporate environmental and energy executives. Today’s briefing includes 10 items.

The new Brazilian prosecutor of the case against Chevron Corp and drilling firm Transocean, Celso de Albuquerque Silva, is seeking a suspension of the companies’ operations. Though a similar request in the court was already rejected, a suspension would impact Brazil’s whole industry and specifically some of the interests of state-run oil company Petrobras, Reuters said.

Mexico’s Senate passed a bill, expected to be signed into law, giving the energy ministry authority to establish a voluntary national emissions trading scheme, and other policies to promote low-carbon technologies. The legislation would allow participants in the emissions market to trade CO2 permits with other countries, Reuters said.

The Chemical Safety Board said it will issue its final report in early 2013 on the well blowout at the Deepwater Horizon, and it could issue safety recommendations on prevention as soon as this August. It is the last panel still investigating the disaster, Fuel Fix said.

The director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the bureau intends to propose new rules for how blowout preventers are designed, and that testing and certification requirements for blowout preventers have improved in the past two years, the Houston Chronicle reports.

House Democrats asked Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter to conduct an inquiry into whether speculators are manipulating oil markets and causing higher gas prices. The letter follows Obama’s call to Congress for legislation to protect energy markets from speculators, The Hill said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the administration for a cost estimate for the EPA’s Utility MACT rule, sending its third letter on the matter, this time to the White House Chief of Staff. The committee says that the MACT would cost between $84 and $112 billion dollars in GDP losses from 2012 through 2035.

The EPA has resumed water testing near Wyoming gas field in the Pavillion area, where the agency says hydraulic fracturing may have caused groundwater pollution. The announcement followed objections raised by Gov. Matt Mead and other state officials about the adequacy of the science behind the EPA’s theory, Fuel Fix said.

Italy will introduce a carbon tax with proceeds earmarked for financing renewable energy production in a revamp of the way clean power is funded in the country. The announcement follows an earlier move that increased Italy’s 2020 renewable energy targets, paired with cuts in production incentives to solar and other green energy, Reuters said.

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