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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: CARB Auction, US Carbon Tax, Chevron Assets Seizure

California will sell more than 60 million CO2 emission permits in a November 14 auction to launch its carbon market, the California Air Resources Board said. ARB will sell 21.8 million allowances that can be used to cover 2013 emissions and 39.5 million allowances that cover 2015 emissions in an auction that could raise more than $600 million in cash. Businesses have traded some allowances on a forward basis for more than a year, Reuters said.

On Tuesday Californians approved Proposition 39, which closes a business tax loophole. Half of the measure’s projected $1 billion a year in revenues will, for the next five years, fund energy efficiency and clean energy projects at schools and other public buildings, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Analysts at global banks HSBC and Citigroup said a carbon tax program could emerge in President Barack Obama’s second term. The tax may be looked upon as a revenue windfall as lawmakers seek solutions to the “fiscal cliff” of tax rises and spending cuts due in early 2013, Reuters said.

Advocates of production tax credits including the Governors’ Wind Coalition, American Wind Energy Association and the Sierra Club are active ahead of next week’s return of Congress with a lobbying campaign for an extension of the incentives during the lame-duck session. The 28-member Governors’ Wind Coalition will hold a press conference Tuesday calling for a PTC extension, The Hill said.

An Argentine judge ordered the seizure of all Chevron Corp. assets in the country on behalf of Ecuadorean plaintiffs in a lawsuit over Amazon rainforest pollution in the Lago Agrio region. The plaintiffs asked an Argentine court to enforce a $19 billion award against Chevron, filing an attachment order in line with an international treaty signed by Ecuador, Argentina and Colombia, Bloomberg said.

EU regulators accused the Chinese government of unfairly subsidizing panel makers as part of their investigation of the Chinese solar panel industry. The European Commission is already investigating whether Chinese manufacturers sold equipment for less than the cost of making it, the New York Times said.

The American Petroleum Institute has renewed its call for President Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, saying that a decision will test Obama’s campaign-season pledges to the oil and gas industry. The White House plans a decision on the cross-border permit in the first quarter of 2013, The Hill said.

All Power America in Chino, Calif. will pay $60,000 and Maxtrade in South El Monte, Calif. will pay $80,000 for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by importing electric generators and recreational vehicles into the Port of Long Beach without proper emission controls. In addition to the penalties, the companies were required to export the non-compliant generators and recreational vehicles out of the country, the EPA said.

The EPA has issued an inspection report to the Guam Waterworks Authority identifying 40 significant deficiencies in the utility’s drinking water supply systems. Regulated chemical contaminants including chlordane, ethylene dibromide, perchloroethylene and trichloroethyelene have been found in GWA drinking water wells. GWA has 45 days to consult with EPA on how it intends to address the issues, the agency said.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said it has provided $5.3 million in Emergency Watershed Protection program funds to 11 states affected by Hurricane Sandy. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia each received $480,000 for recovery projects including removing debris from waterways, protecting eroded stream banks and reseeding damaged areas, the department said.

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