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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EU 2050 Roadmap, Soot Standards, IMF on Carbon Taxes

Poland is said to have again objected to language in the EU’s energy 2050 roadmap that seeks more cuts to carbon emissions, ahead of Friday’s debate on the low-carbon strategy. Reuters reports that Poland is the one delegation of 27 concerned with the word “decarbonization” in the draft document. Also, members are raising questions about energy taxes related to carbon emissions.

The EPA’s air quality standards for soot are expected this week, with a target to issue final standards by Dec. 14, under an agreement with 11 states. A court order on June 2 favored the states, who had sued the agency for proposing a delay until 2013. The regulatory updates are required by the Clean Air Act, writes the New York Times.

An IEA report says that clean-energy technology investments of about $36 trillion through 2050 are required to halve carbon emissions compared to 2005 levels and hold the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius. However, the return on investment is estimated at $100 trillion through long-term energy savings, writes EurActiv.

The IMF has called on European lawmakers to consider the benefits of carbon taxes while looking to solve the continent’s financial crisis. Speaking ahead of the June 20-22 Rio+20 sustainability summit, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said such instruments could generate revenues for governments at a time when they are looking to cut budgets, Reuters reported.

New York, Los Angeles, Houston mayors are among the 90 city leaders who have given support to the MATS regulations to reduce toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants, in a letter to the EPA. The comments come as the Senate prepares to vote on a proposal to abandon the rule, The Hill said.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has said in remarks on the Senate floor that bipartisan support for his effort to block the EPA’s MATS rule, and support the domestic coal industry, is growing. Inhofe said the measure also is supported by the National Federation of Independent Business, American Farm Bureau, National Association of Manufacturers, the American Forest and Paper Association and others.

The House Natural Resources Committee has co-led an effort to collect 166 signatures on a bicameral, bipartisan letter to the Department of Energy reflecting concern over changes to Power Marketing Administrations. According to the letter, DOE directives on PMAs will affect regional electric reliability and costs, and impact rural economies.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee said that supporters of temporary tax provisions like the Production Tax Credit need to both what expiring taxes can be extended, as well as which can be axed. House rules stipulate that extending temporary tax provisions must be offset elsewhere in the budget, but such a package is not likely until the fall, The Hill said.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will have a full committee hearing on the nominations to the NRC today, titled “Hearing on the nomination of Allison Macfarlane and re-nomination of Kristine L. Svinicki to be members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”

Environmental justice and civil rights groups representing minority communities have filed a complaint alleging that the California Air Resources Board‘s cap-and-trade provisions are racially biased. The activists refer to studies that show that people of color make up 66 percent of the state’s population most heavily hit by pollution, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

Commercial buildings in Philadelphia will be ranked according to their energy efficiency, and owners of the buildings will be required to report their energy consumption, under rules that the Philadelphia City Council is expected to approve tomorrow, writes the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Federal energy regulators properly approved a 39-mile natural gas pipeline through three Pennsylvania counties, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, ending a bid by the Sierra Club and others to block the construction of the MARC 1 pipeline in northern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, the Associated Press said.

A research institute at the State University of New York at Buffalo is reporting favorably on the safety of fracking regulations, but has ties to the oil and gas industry, watchdog groups said. The SUNY Buffalo drilling research arm, the Shale Resources and Society Institute, is seeking start-up funds of about $1.14 million from the oil and gas industry and other sources, the New York Times said.

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