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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EU Biofuels, Norway Woos Industry, UN CDM Review, China Wind Quota

Draft EU legislation will impose a limit on the use of crop-based biofuels such as rapeseed and wheat that may be less climate-friendly and compete with food production. The draft rules will need the approval of EU governments and lawmakers, and include plans to shift to advanced non-land-using biofuels made from household waste and algae in order to hit the EU’s 10 percent target for biofuels in 2020, Reuters said.

Norway announced a $90 million scheme to encourage energy-intensive industries to stay in the country, rather than moving to countries with less strict climate regulations. The policy follows along the lines of changes to the EU’s ETS which from next year will allow member states to compensate big energy users, like aluminum or steel producers, for costs linked to carbon emissions, Reuters said.

A UN panel formed to review the Clean Development Mechanism said the low price of the scheme’s certified emission reduction offset credits is a result of low demand and uncertainty over future demand, which in turn impacts countries’ carbon reduction commitments. Among the recommendations in the CDM reform package, the panel calls for countries to strengthen emission reduction pledges under the UNFCCC, and a phase-out of carbon credits for new projects covering the controversial industrial gases HFC-23 and N20, EurActiv said.

China will order major electricity distributors to source up to 15 percent of their power from renewable sources including wind. The quota system will apply to the State Grid Corp of China and China Southern Power Grid Co by the end of 2012. A third of China’s wind power capacity sits idle as the nation’s pricing policy makes renewable energy unprofitable for grid operators and network construction fails to keep pace with capacity expansion, Reuters said.

Several groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council are pushing for a Senate vote on the wind production tax credit in this week before the work session ends for the elections. The groups supporting the PTC hope that an extension of the measure in the Senate will give a signal to the industry, even though the incentive has tougher odds in the House, The Hill said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, Energy and Power Subcommittee has an American Energy Initiative hearing today. The hearing, “A Focus on the Outlook for Achieving North American Energy Independence Within the Decade” will discuss whether North America can produce enough oil and natural gas to meet US energy demands.

The EPA said during a Tuesday House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing that House Republican-sponsored bill HR 4255 would “cripple” the agency’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would eliminate the EPA’s ability to offer financial assistance for international greenhouse gas reduction activities. The grants aim to build global support for reducing emissions of methane or black carbon, The Hill said.

The US Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works will have a full and subcommittee hearing today. The hearing titled “Oversight Hearing: NRC’s Implementation of Recommendations for Enhancing Nuclear Reactor Safety in the 21st Century” will include a panel of witnesses from the NRC.

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