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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Climate Action Tracker, German Renewables, Wind PTC, E15

The Climate Action Tracker issued its latest briefing, saying that major nations’ policies are inadequate to limit global warming, and the US is off track in meeting its weak pledge to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The report, issued on the sidelines of the Doha, Qatar, climate talks, said tougher policies could still possibly avert damaging floods, heat waves and rising seas, Reuters said.

The European Commission is beginning an investigation into whether Germany’s 2012 renewables energy law is leading to the misuse of incentives and exemptions. The commission confirmed it had received a complaint in relation to new features of feed-in tariffs and the exemption of energy-intensive investments, Reuters said.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Energy & Environment Task Force has officially endorsed a bill that would extend the wind energy production tax credit through 2016 for wind, biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, landfill gas, trash and hydropower. But the legislation does not have much chance in the House if there is no timeframe for the incentive eventually to be phased out, analysts said. A one-year extension of the credit is included in a tax-extenders bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee, North American Windpower said.

Road travel group AAA called for a suspension in the sale of E15 ethanol-blended gasoline, in the latest opposition against increasing the use of biofuels in transport. Currently only about ten stations in the US offer E15, but AAA wants the suspension before next year, when the rising renewable fuel standard could increase supply, Reuters said.

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders expressed concerns in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services about the scientific objectivity of the department. HHS has a role in the Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources, which is taking part in a broad study of health impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing and other shale gas development activities, the committee said.

An American Lung Association national survey of 942 registered voters finds support for a proposal to strengthen air pollution standards for soot. Sixty-two percent of respondents favor the proposal, compared to 30 percent who oppose it, and 7 percent who are undecided. Nearly 4 in 10 respondents (39 percent) strongly favor the standards, while 20 percent expressed strong opposition, the association said.

The EPA has proposed to approve the Texas clean-air plan that covers public notification requirements for existing and new facilities applying for air permits. The TCEQ revised the public participation rules to apply to new and existing facilities that are classified as major or minor sources of pollution and submitted a State Implementation Plan for EPA action. The revised rules give citizens two opportunities to provide comments on air permits, the EPA said.

The EPA has entered into a Clean Water Act administrative consent agreement and final order with PDC Mountaineer to resolve alleged violations stemming from construction activities at Marcellus Shale gas extraction facilities in northern West Virginia. The settlement requires PDCM to pay a penalty of $177,500. Also, the company is restoring or completing mitigation projects at four sites related to three administrative orders as part of the agreement, the agency said.

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