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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Keystone Rally, Monsanto in Supreme Court, NYC EVs

Thousands of protesters gathered on the National Mall Sunday calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline plan and take action on climate change. The Forward on Climate rally brought an estimated 35,000 people from 30 states, protesting the Keystone project for facilitating carbon-emitting oil sands extraction. Organizers 350.org, the Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus said it was the biggest climate rally in US history.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has ordered Apache Corporation to prepare to drill a relief well to control its natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico, where gas has flowed underground. Apache shut the well on February 5 after experiencing a temporary loss of control due to high pressure, but said that no gas or oil has leaked into the Gulf, Reuters reports.

The Supreme Court will hear a case on Tuesday between 75-year-old Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman and seed company Monsanto. Bowman’s case addresses whether patents on seeds, or other things that can self-replicate, extend beyond the first generation of the products. Farmers who plant seeds with Monsanto’s technology must sign an agreement not to save the seeds, and must buy new seeds every year. Monsanto says that a victory for Bowman would allow farmers to save seeds from one year’s crop to plant the next year, violating patent protection, the New York Times said.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says he will seek to change the city building code so that up to 20 percent of all new parking spaces in private developments will be wired for electric vehicle charging. This will create up to 10,000 EV charging spots over the next seven years, Bloomberg said. He also said the city will add 50 EVs to its fleet and make one-third of New York’s taxi fleet electric by 2020.

The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, issued a $1 billion green bond that will be used to support IFC climate-friendly projects in developing countries. It is the largest green bond issue to date and was principally allocated to socially responsible investment portfolios. Criteria for the use of green bond program proceeds are certified by Cicero, an independent research center associated with the University of Oslo, the IFC said.

The UNFCCC has signed an agreement with the East African Development Bank to increase participation in clean development projects in the region. The agreement will establish a regional collaboration center in Kampala, Uganda, that will support the identification of projects qualified to earn certified emission reductions (CERs) under the Clean Development Mechanism. Uganda has 12 emission-reduction projects currently registered to earn CERs, the UN said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee requested a security update from the Department of Energy related to the agency’s nuclear operations. The request follows up on a July 2012 trespassing incident at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The committee is requesting a security review for DOE facilities with Category I and II special nuclear materials, The Hill said.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a measure to develop geothermal energy through the federal land leasing program. This legislation extends the authority for noncompetitive leasing in cases where a geothermal developer wants to gain access to federal land immediately adjacent to land with proven geothermal resources, The Hill said.

The EPA has reached a $1.62 million settlement with 47 parties for contamination at the 190-acre Operating Industries, Inc. Superfund Site in Monterey Park, Calif. Each of the parties was responsible for sending a relatively small volume, between 4,200 and 110,000 gallons, of liquid hazardous waste to the OII landfill during decades of operation, the EPA says. This is the last settlement in expects to sign for the OII site, bringing in a total of $600 million worth of cash and commitments for cleanup work over 25 years, the agency said.

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