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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: DOE Downplays EV Goal, UN Targets Venting

The Department of Energy backed away President Obama’s stated goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015, and outlined its strategy of promoting advanced-drive vehicles. Under the new strategy, the DOE is supporting research into new battery technologies and manufacturing methods that would lower the cost of lightweight materials. The DOE also confirmed its goal to lower the cost of lithium-ion batteries to $300 per kilowatt hour by 2015 from the present $650, Reuters said.

The EPA and the State of Illinois have signed a consent decree with H. Kramer and Co., to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and state air pollution violations at the firm’s copper smelting foundry in Chicago. Under the settlement, H. Kramer will spend $3 million on new state-of-the-art pollution controls for the foundry, pay a $35,000 penalty and provide $40,000 to retrofit diesel school buses, the agency said.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and colleagues floated the “Expedited LNG for American Allies Act” that would ensure federal approval of US natural gas exports to NATO countries and Japan. The Energy Department is currently reviewing 16 applications to export LNG to countries that don’t have free-trade deals with the US, and Japan is looking to expand imports as its nuclear capacity remains offline, The Hill said.

The UN Climate and Clean Air Coalition has called for accelerated action to substantially reduce venting, leakage, and flaring of natural gas from oil and gas operations worldwide. Specifically, the coalition intends to work with interested oil and gas companies to achieve global methane and black carbon emission reductions. It is estimated that over eight percent of total worldwide natural gas production is lost annually to venting, leakage, and flaring, for $27-63 billion in energy and economic losses and two gigatons of GHG emissions per year, UNEP said.

The City of Sacramento has launched a new program, Clean Energy Sacramento, to help finance energy-saving upgrades for commercial buildings and homes. The program will open with $22 million already committed to upgrades. Building owners incur no upfront costs and will gradually pay back the financing in installments on their property tax bills. The city’s program will be one of the largest in the country based on the financing approach known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), the New York Times said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has received $7.25 million in funding from the Commonwealth Financing Authority to complete the agency’s Sunshine Solar Program. The program had been in a waiting-list phase since August 2011 because the demand exceeded available funds. The funding is enough to provide rebates for wait-listed projects and an estimated 400 additional installations this year, the DEP said.

Thermal Energy Development Partnership, a biomass electric power plant in Tracy, Calif., will pay $145,000 in a settlement for Clean Air Act violations involving emission monitoring equipment. Thermal Energy’s monitoring equipment failed to monitor sulfur dioxide for 30 months, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide for 27 months, and opacity for 9 months. There were no known emission violations, the EPA said.

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