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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Steel ETS Permits, Quebec Cap-and-Trade, India CSR, Solar Grants

The European Commission may give more free pollution allowances to the steel sector next year to counter the risk that the industry could be driven out of Europe. Though the cost of carbon on the EU ETS is at record lows, it is expected to rise. Some in heavy industry say that the ETS does not lead to emissions cuts but rather a relocation of industry to pollute other nations that do not require carbon permits, Reuters reports.

Quebec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks has adopted an amendment to the regulation regarding a cap-and-trade system for GHG emission allowances. The amendment is expected to harmonize Quebec’s cap-and-trade system, the SPEDE, with California’s as well as with those of future partners. Its adoption now makes it possible to link the Québec and California systems, and the first joint auction is planned for August 2013, the ministry said.

The majority of India’s top 100 companies, 64 percent, do not seem prepared for corporate social and environmental responsibility reporting, which was mandated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India in August this year. Companies are required to submit this document along with their annual report for the fiscal year ending on or after December 31, 2012, India’s Economic Times said.

The Treasury Department is asking SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity to justify their more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits. The companies received payments through the Treasury’s 1603 program, which was designed to increase renewable energy use. The cash grant program pays installers up to 30 percent of the project cost, and the investigation is reviewing whether business costs were inflated in order to qualify for a larger grant, The Hill said.

Five employees of Deutsche Bank have been arrested for money laundering or obstruction of justice related to carbon trading. A Frankfurt prosecutor said the investigation will take months, Reuters reported.

Spain’s oldest nuclear plant Garona has been closed down under the expectation that new taxes in a government energy reform would make the plant unviable. Operator Nuclenor said that the taxes would send the company into bankruptcy. Spain’s higher taxes on electricity generation aim to address a €24 billion ($31 billion) energy tariff deficit from selling power below costs, Reuters said.

A Boston Marine Transport barge carrying 112,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil leaked into New York City’s Kill Van Kull waterway on Saturday, but it was unclear how much oil spilled into the water, the US Coast Guard said. The leak occurred at Mays Ship Repair near Mariner’s Harbor in the city’s Staten Island borough. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection are responding to help contain the spill, Reuters reports.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has plans for hearings on the renewable fuel standard and E15 in the next Congress. The committee cites recent concerns from the AAA motor club, automakers and the oil industry that the E15 rule is pushing a high-ethanol fuel blend onto the market they say will damage cars. The renewable fuel standard requires refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of ethanol into traditional transportation fuel by 2022, which will require refiners to ramp up production of fuels with higher ethanol concentrations, The Hill reports.

Nashua Corporation, a specialty coated products manufacturer, has agreed to pay a penalty of $20,200 and to spend $80,800 to replace old, polluting wood stoves in southern New Hampshire homes with new, EPA-certified wood stoves to settle claims that it violated the Clean Air Act. Nashua allegedly failed to comply with the notification and reporting provisions of the regulation National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing, the EPA said.

CSG Holdings has paid $150,000 to resolve EPA allegations that it allowed polluted stormwater and process water from its Columbia, N.H., facility to flow into nearby waters, violating the Clean Water Act provisions to prevent pollution from stormwater runoff at industrial sites. The company is the former operator of Columbia Sand and Gravel, a sand and gravel mining facility on the banks of the Connecticut River, the agency said.

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