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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: XP Sues DOE, Coal-Free Ontario, TX-NM Water Fight

Electric car start-up XP Vehicles and its sister company Limnia sued the Energy Department saying the agency awarded money to politically favored firms and shunned other firms. The companies also say they have evidence suggesting that the DOE improperly shared its patented technology with competing companies that won federal funding, the Washington Post said.

Ontario, Canada, will close its last coal-fired electricity plants in southern Ontario by the end of 2013, a year ahead of schedule. The early closures are at the province’s two largest plants, Nanticoke and Lambton. As a result of becoming coal-free, Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector will decrease from a high of 41.4 megatons in 2000 to five megatons after 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade said.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality filed a complaint with the US Supreme Court, requesting the high court to make New Mexico deliver water from the Rio Grande River. Texas says that New Mexico has illegally tapped surface and underground water connected to the Rio Grande downstream of Elephant Butte reservoir, a diversion that violates a 1938 agreement to deliver the water, the Austin American-Statesman said.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said that the organization will prioritize climate change as a key strategic focus. Kim has been bank president since July 2011, and says he has had to make “tough choices” about the bank’s priorities. Climate change will be a focus along with education and health, Bloomberg said.

The EU is looking at a new set of tax proposals that would promote clean fuel but may lead to higher diesel prices. Currently fuel is taxed based on volume. Representatives of member states will meet on Jan. 23 for a discussion that may revive the idea of fuel taxation according to carbon dioxide emissions and energy content. The changes under discussion, if agreed by all 27 states, could mean minimum tax rates per liter of diesel would be higher than for gasoline, Reuters said.

Mayor Zhang Bao of Changzhi in northern China has apologized for waiting five days before reporting a 9-metric-ton leak of aniline into the Zhuozhang River. Aniline is a benzene derivative that can be fatal if ingested. Workers at phosphate fertilizers producer Tianji Coal Chemical Industry based in Changzhi found a spill on Dec. 31, and the company said it reported the accident the same day. The government of Changzhi says it immediately switched to an alternative source of drinking water. But other cities were not informed. Aniline seven times in excess of legal standards was found 100 miles downstream, Chemical & Engineering News writes.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center warned residents to stay indoors over the weekend as pollution levels were recorded at 30-45 times above recommended safety levels. PM2.5 particulate matter had reached more than 600 micrograms per square meter at some monitoring stations in Beijing, and as high as 900 on Saturday evening. The recommended daily level for PM2.5 is 20, according to the World Health Organization, Reuters said.

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