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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Loan Program Stalls, ‘Absurd’ BP Claims

The cost to business of participating in the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program outweigh the benefits, according to a Government Accountability Office report, summarized by the Hill. The costs include a bureaucratic application progress and reputation risks, following negative publicity around the Solyndra bankruptcy. The GAO told Congress that the DOE loan office has about $51 billion in unawarded funds and $170 million in unused credit subsidy appropriations, and the department hasn’t closed or conditionally committed on a loan or loan guarantee under the programs since September 2011.

The Interior department has announced approval for 1,100 MW of wind and solar projects. The department approved the 750 MW McCoy Solar Energy Project and the 150 MW Desert Harvest Solar Farm, both in California, and the 200 MW Searchlight Wind Energy Project in Clark County, Nevada. All three projects have completed environmental reviews and public comment periods, Platts reports.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) have introduced two bills designed to ensure that hydraulic fracturing is not exempt from the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. The Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effect (BREATHE) Act and the Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydraulic Environmental Regulation (FRESHER) Act update health and safety protections that have traditionally had strong bi-partisan support, the representatives say.

This week will likely see both House and Senate floor debates over Republicans’ and Democrats’ competing energy visions, the Hill reports. A GOP-written plan in the house would require approval for the Keystone XL pipeline and would make more federal lands available for oil and gas leasing, while the Senate Democrats are talking up their plans for clean energy research and efforts to address climate change. 

The Hill also reports that on Tuesday, a subpanel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will examine the Department of Energy’s review of natural-gas exports.

Also on Tuesday, the Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “American Energy Security and Innovation: The Role of Regulators and Grid Operators in Meeting Natural Gas and Electric Coordination Challenges.” Witnesses include representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Railroad Commission of Texas, Colorado Public Utilities Commission and ISO New England.

BP asked a federal court judge in New Orleans on Friday to put a hold on claims, related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, that are paid out as business economic losses. The company said many of the claims are “fictitious” and “absurd,” and said it could be “irreparably harmed” because the payouts may total billions more than what the company planned on when it agreed a settlement last April, Reuters reports.

The European Parliament is scheduled to take an initial vote tomorrow on proposed fuel efficiency standards, Reuters says. Last year the European Commission published plans to achieve a goal of 95 grams per kilometer on average across the EU car fleet by 2020, down from an earlier target of 130 g/km by 2015. 

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