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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: USDA BioPreferred, EU Energy Efficiency, China Air Pollution

The Department of Agriculture has proposed 12 additional biobased product categories that when finalized will include more than 2,300 additional biobased products for preferred purchasing consideration by all Federal government agencies and contractors. The proposed rule, which is out for public comment for 60 days, includes biobased products such as agricultural spray adjuvants, animal cleaning products, fuel conditioners, wastewater systems coatings, water clarifying agents and specialty precision cleaners and solvents.

Leaked documents show that UK government officials have repeatedly made efforts to thwart adoption of EU energy efficiency, pursuing a voluntary status rather than a mandatory one. Also the papers show that the UK has tried to block new targets for renewable energy generation, The Guardian said.

A Chinese official said foreign embassies should stop issuing air pollution readings because was against the law and diplomatic conventions to interfere in internal affairs. The U.S. embassy monitors air quality from its rooftop and releases hourly air-quality data, Reuters said.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington group has requested an investigation into whether large natural gas producers, for example Chesapeake Energy and ConocoPhillips, have made efforts to limit the production in order to raise prices. The group alleges that these companies have curtailed their production to raise demand and increase prices, and asked for the Department of Justice to look into violation of antitrust laws.

The Sierra Club plans a new “Wind Works” campaign to increase pressure on lawmakers to extend wind-energy tax credits that are set to expire at the end of the year. The campaign will address lawmakers with wind-related jobs in their district, The Hill said.

Industry groups say that the EPA has overestimated their assessment of methane release during hydraulic fracturing. The report from the American Petroleum Institute and the America’s Natural Gas Alliance, which reviewed a greater number of wells than the EPA assessment, found that the gas is only half the agency estimate, The Hill said.

The House moved to block enforcement of federal light bulb standards, approving two amendments for Energy and Water spending bill for 2013. The amendments prevent the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce the2007 law that sets bulb efficiency standards, The Hill said.

The House rejected amendments that aimed to reduce the 2013 Energy and Water spending bill. One sought to end all nuclear energy research subsidies to private companies, for a $514 million saving, and another would cut fossil energy research subsidies, and save $554 million, The Hill said.

The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will have a hearing Thursday on “Recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future for a Consent-Based Approach to Siting Nuclear Waste Storage and Management Facilities.” Witnesses include representatives from the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, Natural Resources Defense Council and The Scowcroft Group.

Former Regional Administrator for EPA Region 6 Al Armendariz said that he would not appear at today’s hearing “EPA Enforcement Priorities and Practices,” with the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Armendariz had previously agreed to testify about his controversial comments that led to his resignation.

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