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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chinese Wind Tower Ruling, Keystone Approval, DOE Finds Conflict of Interest

The Commerce Department issued a preliminary ruling in an antidumping case, finding that Chinese manufacturers have been illegally selling steel towers for wind turbines below the cost of production and will have to pay duties of 20.85 to 72.69 percent on imports. The department also said Vietnamese companies face duties of 59.91 percent, except for Vietnamese manufacturer CS Wind, for whom tariffs are set at 52.67 percent, the New York Times said.

TransCanada received the final permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for the southern leg of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline. The 400-mile “Gulf Coast Project” runs from the oil depots of Cushing, Okla., to refineries in Texas. TransCanada said that the section would cost $2.3 billion and create 4,000 jobs, the New York Times said.

The Energy Department’s deputy inspector general reported that the department’s Clean Cities program gave out about $5 million in grants to individuals with conflicts of interest. The program, which had $300 million to distribute in 2009, made an award to an individual who funded a family member’s company. In another case, an appointed coalition gave 40 percent of its available funds to entities associated with board members, Bloomberg said.

The Association of European Airlines expresses its concerns about the EU proposal to boost the price of carbon allowances under the EU ETS, saying that the new proposal would have a further detrimental effect on the European airlines facing a forecasted loss of €1.5 billion in 2012. AEA said that the proposal fundamentally changes the market principles of trading with ETS quotas.

The USDA designated 76 additional counties in six states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat; altogether qualified farm operators in 1,369 counties in 31 states are eligible for low-interest emergency loans. Currently two-thirds of the continental United States is in a moderate to exceptional drought, the agency said.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill to rejoin multi-state greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program RGGI for the second time in less than a year, calling the RGGI a “futile policy.” In his veto statement, Christie promoted his bill supporting solar energy projects, the new emissions restrictions for power plants in New Jersey and his litigation against out-of-state plants, NorthJersey.com said.

A Pennsylvania appellate court panel struck down provisions in the state’s five-month-old “Act 13” law regulating the natural gas industry. Seven municipalities had sued, saying it unconstitutionally takes property rights from towns and landowners for the benefit of the oil and gas industry. The panel found that the provisions upended the municipal zoning rules that had previously been followed by other property owners, unfairly exposing them to harm, the Wall Street Journal said.

The Canadian government’s Environment Canada report for August will show that the nation is almost halfway to meeting its 2020 emissions reduction target of 17 percent below 2005 levels, an improvement progress announced a year ago, when it was only a quarter of the way to its goal. In this report, Canada was able to count land-use change and forestry, which accounted for a 25 megaton improvement to calculations, the Vancouver Sun said.

The Philippines Energy Regulatory Commission has approved feed-in tariffs for hydro, biomass, wind and solar. The commission said it arrived at FITs substantially lower than originally proposed after updating construction costs of the plants, and also adopted higher capacity factors to ensure that only the more efficient plants will enjoy the FIT incentive.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a full committee hearing, “Update on the Latest Climate Change Science and Local Adaptation Measures,” on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Witnesses include representatives from Stanford University, Harvard University and the American Council for Capital Formation.

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