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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Clean Air Initiative, EU ETS, NJ Solar, Feed-In Tariffs

Seven more countries – the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Jordan – have joined the US air pollution plan, the Climate and Clean Air Initiative, bringing the total to 20 members since the plan’s launch in February. The initiative focuses on reducing soot, heat-trapping methane, ground level ozone and HFC gases, and supporters say it buys time in the fight against climate change, Reuters reports.

The European Commission today will announce its plans to address the large oversupply of allowances affecting the EU ETS. It is the latest of a string of efforts to rescue the carbon trading market, which was impacted by years of recession and trading scams, Reuters said.

New Jersey utilities will have to get 2.05 percent of their electricity from solar projects in 2014, up from less than 0.5 percent, to comply with legislation signed by Governor Chris Christie. The state’s solar requirement will increase to 4.1 percent by 2028. Utilities that fail to meet the increasing percentage will face penalties of $339 for each MWh short of the goal in 2014, Bloomberg said.

The UK’s DECC has announced its final package of changes to its feed-in tariff scheme, effective from December 1, 2012. The tariffs for small wind projects (1.5 kW to 100 kW), currently ranging from GBP 0.358 to GBP 0.254, will be reduced to GBP 0.210. For projects in the 1,500 kW to 5,000 kW range the tariff will be GBP 0.0448, compared with GBP 0.049 currently. A degression mechanism will be introduced for anaerobic digestion, wind and hydro from April 2014. Previously announced changes to solar tariffs will take effect August 1, 2012, the department said.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to vote today on the Safe Chemicals Act, which aims to increase federal chemicals regulation with new product safety requirements for the chemical industry. The bill also includes measures for the EPA to prioritize chemicals, and allows for more agency action to reduce exposure to bioaccumulative toxics, The Hill said.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote today on President Obama’s five-year plan for offshore oil and gas lease sales, H.R. 6168, and also a GOP bill, H.R. 6082, that would replace the Obama plan with one that calls for expanded lease sales. The White House said it would veto the GOP drilling bill, The Hill said.

Republican senators will introduce legislation Thursday that would require expanded onshore oil-and-gas leasing, allow drilling off Virginia’s coast, and immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The plan is expected to include processes to streamline the onshore oil-and-gas drilling permit process, and direct more revenues from offshore production to Gulf states, The Hill said.

The UK’s Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has criticized the draft Energy Bill, which aims to stimulate £110 ($170) billion in investment in new plants. The committee said that attempts to encourage nuclear investment with long-term power contracts are confusing, and that consumers would face bigger increases in fuel bills, The Telegraph said.

The EPA has designated the Massachusetts coastal waters of Nantucket, Vineyard Sounds and the Islands, and Mt. Hope Bay, as no-discharge areas, a move that protects more than 95 percent of the state’s coastal waters from boat-generated sewage pollution. The designation covers more than 733 square miles of state waters and includes 143 bathing beaches, 26 miles of coastline and about 733 square mile of state waters, Environmental Protection writes.

Chemtura Corp., Bethlehem Apparatus, and Haldor Topsoe face civil penalties totaling $362,113 following alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The EPA has issued complaints against the companies related to TSCA section 8 Inventory Update Reporting regulations, which require companies to submit accurate data about the production and use of chemical substances manufactured or imported during a calendar year, the agency said.

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