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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Bonn Climate Talks, New Zealand ETS, IRIS Review

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that country delegates who agreed on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, a process to develop a new GHG emissions reduction protocol by 2015, should set targets this year to make sure the process sticks to schedule. A working group on the Durban Platform is expected to emerge from the U.N. climate talks being held in Bonn, Germany, Reuters said.

In Bonn, the EU and groups of developing countries are divided over the details of the “Kyoto 2″ extension of the protocol, including how long an extension should remain in effect. Negotiators for the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Alliance for Small Island States oppose an EU-favored eight-year commitment would allow industrialized nations to delay action to curb emissions, The Guardian said.

The New Zealand government said that it will consider an option to allow certain importers of goods containing synthetic greenhouse gases to pay via a levy system rather than through participation in the country’s emissions trading scheme. The proposed change comes after a government panel found that some importers of goods such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and electrical switch gear are exposed to higher compliance costs, Bernama News said.

The EPA announced that the National Academy of Sciences will conduct a review of the Integrated Risk Information System program’s assessment development process. The IRIS program conducts health assessments of hundreds of chemicals that may be present in the environment. NAS will review current methods for weight of evidence analyses and recommend approaches for weighing scientific evidence for chemical hazard identification, the EPA said.

A new series of reports commissioned by Next 10 through the University of Berkeley, looks at how California might spend the funds generated by the state’s soon-to-be-launched carbon market. Among issues addressed, the reports suggest that the auctioned allowances, which must be reviewed by California courts, should not be classified as a tax, the group said.

QEP Field Services, formerly Questar Gas Management, will pay a $3.65 million civil penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at five natural gas compressor stations on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. Under a proposed settlement with the EPA and US Department of Justice, QEP will also pay $350,000 into a Clean Air Trust Fund to be established by the tribes. The settlement also requires QEP to reduce its emissions by removing certain equipment, installing additional pollution controls, and replacing natural gas powered instrument control systems with compressed air control systems.

The House Armed Services Committee has included in its report on next year’s Pentagon budget a measure that would exclude the development and purchase of biofuels that cost more than traditional fossil fuels. The proposal also clears the military to use the Fischer-Tropsch method, which generates gas to liquid fuel from coal and natural gas – and also emits more carbon than burning refined crude oil, Renewable Energy World said.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Vermont’s law that bans the hydraulic fracturing gas drilling technique; it is the nation’s first fracking ban. Oil and gas industry groups criticized the new law, though Vermont is not believed to hold much natural gas or oil, the Associated Press said.

Over the weekend, President Obama will look to Group of Eight leaders for support of a coordinated release of emergency oil supplies, during a summit at Camp David. In the past months, the administration has considered tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and US officials have approached French and British officials about coordinating an oil release, The Hill said.

Brazil’s navy is investigating an oil spill off the coast near the state of Espirito Santo. State-controlled Petrobras informed Brazil’s environmental protection agency of the spill on Wednesday. The latest spill calls into question the  safety of Brazil’s expanding oil production capacity, Reuters said.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to ban implementation of policies connected to the United Nations’ Agenda 21, becoming the second state legislative body recently to vote against the international compact. The New Hampshire legislative measure, if passed in the Senate, would prevent local, county and state governments from joining the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, a group trying to promote Agenda 21, Huffington Post writes.

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