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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Duke on Carbon Pricing, Energy Efficiency, MATS Battles

The CEO of Duke Energy, the third-largest electric utility in the US, has said that nationwide carbon pricing is “inevitable,” Point Carbon reports. Jim Rogers also told attendees of a Hamilton Project-Stanford University energy policy forum that natural gas expansion should not come at the expense of solar and wind development. Many speakers at the forum agreed that the US government should set a federal tax on carbon emissions to drive the market for renewable energy, writes The Oakland Tribune.

The EU has agreed on text of an energy efficiency law targeting governments and utilities for 15 percent energy savings by 2020, which is less aggressive than an initial roadmap target of 20 percent set in the Energy Efficiency Directive of 2007. The text will now move to an approval stage by the 27 member states, Reuters said.

Singapore’s newly published national climate strategy includes plans to reduce emissions across sectors, including manufacturing, refining and chemicals, along with measures for energy efficiency in buildings, and sustainable business development models, writes Eco-Business. The country has delayed its decision on whether to introduce an emissions trading scheme, Point Carbon said.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has announced that a Senate vote on its resolution to block the EPA’s MATS rule will be on June 20. The measure has some bipartisan and private sector support.

A federal court granted the national NAACP permission to intervene in a lawsuit and help defend the EPA’s MATS rules. The NAACP, represented in the intervention by Earthjustice, joins a coalition of 17 national and state public health and environmental groups and will argue the civil rights issues related to clean air, Earthjustice said.

Australia will create a 3-million-sq.-km. network of marine parks, protecting about a third of its national waters with a ban on oil and gas exploration and a limit on commercial fishing in some of the most sensitive areas. A focus of the plan is the protection of the Coral Sea area that surrounds the Great Barrier Reef, Reuters said.

BP faces a new lawsuit over a 2010 emissions event at its Texas City refinery that sent more than 500,000 pounds of chemicals into the air. More than 50,000 people have sued, claiming they suffered ill health effects. A state investigation found that BP’s decision to keep operating the unit and flare was a violation of air quality laws, and the company paid a $50 million fine, writes The Galveston County Daily News.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo may allow hydraulic fracturing in five counties – Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga – along the Marcellus Shale formation. Drilling would be allowed only if local governments agree to it, and permits would be issued only where residents support drilling. A final decision on fracking in the state will come after a scientific review is complete, Business Week said.

A New York state court dismissed a lawsuit that tried to block the state’s participation in RGGI, saying the plaintiffs had no grounds. Two business executives backed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Prosperity filed the suit, arguing that in 2005 then-governor George Pataki signed on to RGGI without the support of the state legislature, Reuters said.

Republicans said that they will use amendments to a Senate farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, to target federal regulations – for example, with a measure that would prevent the EPA from issuing any new rule that regulates agriculture dust. The EPA has previously said that it does not intend to regulate farm dust, The Hill said.

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