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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EPA Rule Upheld, EU Aviation Law, UK Renewable Subsidies

A federal appeals court upheld the EPA’s 2010 National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which limit nitrogen dioxide emissions near major roadways. The 100 parts-per-billion limit is intended to reduce smog, updating a Clean Air standard from 1971. The American Petroleum Institute led opposition to the rule and had sued to overturn it, saying the rule went beyond what was necessary to protect public health, Platts said.

The State Department and the DOT will host a July 31 meeting of countries that oppose the EU aviation carbon law. The meeting is a follow-up to a February gathering in Moscow, where around 20 countries agreed on several potential retaliatory measures against the EU, including formal complaints at the UN, bans on participation in the EU ETS, and retaliatory levies, Reuters said.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the $26-per-gallon cost of fuel for the US Navy’s Great Green Fleet demonstration. However, a purchase of $59-per-gallon alcohol-based synthetic jet fuel by the Air Force last month has not raised the same ire. In total, the Air Force demonstration cost $639,000 while the Navy spent $12 million on biofuels to power a carrier strike group for a day, Reuters said.

A study from the Mercatus Center on the impact of proposed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for passenger cars and later-year light trucks has projected that the rules will be ineffective at cutting greenhouse gases. According to authors Ted Gayer and W. Kip Viscusi, the DOT, EPA and DOE based their predictions of GHG reductions on an assumption that consumers would make irrational choices.

The RELIEF Act, a bill that would scale back the Lacey Act’s restrictions on importation and sale of goods made with illegally harvested timber and other plants, looks set to be considered soon – about a year after federal agents raided the Gibson Guitar company over alleged Lacey violations. The House Rules Committee set an amendment deadline of this Friday for the bill, indicating the House could take up the bill next week, The Hill said.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association says that a DOE plan for the nation’s four government-operated power marketing associations to upgrade transmission infrastructure would raise costs on rural hydroelectric power customers without their consent. The DOE plan would require investments designed to help PMAs meet national standards meant to prevent electricity blackouts and integrate distributed energy resources, and it would also change rate designs to accommodate those new investments, The Hill said.

The British government delayed a decision for a second time on new state support levels for renewable energy projects. The decision on subsidy levels has been pushed back until September 30, putting at risk projects and investments that will help Britain meet its legally binding climate change targets, Reuters said.

A majority of Australian businesses – 62 percent – in the architecture, building, construction and design industries do not believe the government’s new carbon tax will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions. As well, more than half of the businesses surveyed stated they would not use alternative energy sources in the future due to the carbon tax, and 90 percent of businesses surveyed stated they already make an attempt to reduce pollution and emissions on their own, according to industry network group Infolink.

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