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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Doha, NY Fracking, UK Energy Law

More than 17,000 participants are expected in Doha, Qatar for the United Nations’ 18th Conference of the Parties on climate change, beginning today. The meeting comes a month before the expiration of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Last year’s Durban Platform called for richer countries to continue their carbon cutting with an extension of the Kyoto Protocol while developing nations, including India and China, would negotiate a new deal by 2015 that would commit all countries to reduce emissions from 2020, the BBC said.

The European Union, one of the few parties to have promised to sign up to a second emissions-cutting period under the Kyoto process, has lost some leadership capacity at the global climate talks, because of the ongoing debt crisis. As well, the EU recently delayed its aviation emissions law, and member states remain divided over an oversupply of “hot air” pollution permits, called Assigned Amount Allowances (AAUs), Reuters said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed a decision on new fracking regulations in the state into 2013. The state DEC has been doing an environmental impact study and drafting new regulations since 2008. The deadline for finalizing regulations is Nov. 29 under the state Administrative Procedures Act. National experts are conducting a health impact review of shale gas drilling, which could be ready in December, but the new rules might be delayed by another six months, the Associated Press said.

The British government announced changes to energy regulations, aiming to develop renewable energy and nuclear power. The changes gradually quadruple the charges to consumers and businesses to support low-carbon energy generation, to about £9.8 ($15.7) billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, from £2.35 billion now, the New York Times said.

Louisiana Generating, an electric generating company owned by NRG Energy, agreed to a settlement with the EPA and DOJ for violations at its Big Cajun II coal-fired power plant in New Roads, Louisiana. The settlement will require the company to spend $250 million by 2015 to reduce air pollution, pay a civil fine of $3.5 million, and spend $10.5 million on environmental mitigation projects. The actions lead to the elimination of over 27,300 tons of harmful emissions per year, the EPA said.

The EPA, the DOJ, and the Mississippi DEQ have reached a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Jackson, Miss. Jackson has agreed to make improvements to its sewer systems to eliminate unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and unauthorized bypasses of treatment at the Savanna Street Wastewater Treatment Plant, the city’s largest wastewater treatment facility.  Jackson also will pay a civil penalty of $437,916 and implement an $875,000 supplemental environmental project , the EPA said.

Four seafood processing vessels operating in federal waters off the coast of Alaska failed to comply with federal Clean Water Act permits regulating their seafood waste discharges, according to settlement agreements with the EPA. The companies owning the vessels agreed to settle the violations and pay fines as follows:  Aleutian Spray Fisheries ($120,000), United States Seafoods ($90,600), and Ocean Peace ($98,000).

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