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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Ontario FIT Ruled Protectionist, Calif. Fracking, N. Mexico Renewables

Ontario’s feed-in tariff program, which pays above-market rates to generators of renewable energy that use Canadian-made equipment, undermines competition because it favors domestic products, a WTO panel decided. The decision supports complaints of protectionism from the EU and Japan. The government intends to appeal, saying its FIT program requiring up to 60 percent Ontario goods and labor for renewable projects is compliant with WTO agreements, Bloomberg reports.

California released its first-ever draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing, requiring energy companies to disclose their fracking plans to the state 10 days before starting operations. The companies also would have to post locations of work sites three days in advance, and list chemicals that are not classified as trade secrets to online database FracFocus. More rules cover testing and monitoring of the wells, the San Jose Mercury News said.

New Mexico regulators have approved a plan for meeting state renewable energy standards that increases the annual cost cap for utilities’ renewable energy expenditures – changing the cap to 3 percent of customers’ bills starting in 2013, up from 2.25 percent. The commission adjusted the renewable fuel mix, increasing the amount of wind power utilities can use to 30 percent. Solar remains at 20 percent, and biofuels and geothermal have been reduced to 5 percent, the Associated Press said.

The UK has deferred its decision on the inclusion of aviation and shipping emissions in the UK’s carbon budgets until 2016. This comes after the next general election, and into the fifth carbon budget, which sets the country’s emissions from 2028 to 2032. The government said that by 2016 there should be more consensus on how aviation emissions will be tackled at an EU and global level, The Guardian writes.

Kentucky Power filed a plan meant to address environmental compliance at its Big Sandy Power Plant near Louisa. The company has scrapped plans to install a scrubber system at the coal-fired plant, and has scheduled its 800 MW Unit 2 for retirement in 2015. Its new plan seeks 50 percent of the ownership of the Mitchell Generation Station, currently held by AEP Ohio, the Hazard Herald said.

The EPA has proposed to approve the state of Arkansas’ permitting program for new facilities that will emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases. If approved, the state’s program will replace a federal plan in effect since January 2011. Final approval would provide Arkansas with authority to issue GHG permits and establish appropriate emissions levels for new or heavily modified GHG sources, the agency said.

The quantity of acetone stored at a Neptune Technologies and Bio Resources factory in Sherbrooke, Quebec, exceeded ministry standards, according to Radio Canada. A Nov. 8 explosion and fire killed three people and injured 18 others. The Ministry of Environment authorized the company to keep 6,000 liters of acetone inside the factory and 33,000 liters outside. Officials investigating the explosion estimate that 15,000 liters of acetone burned in the fire and discovered additional reservoirs within the rubble with a total capacity of 27,000 liters. The Ministry of Environment is reviewing possible actions for the breach of standards, CBC News said.

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