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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: SEC Rules, Wisconsin Mining Permit, Offshore Royalties

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has barred Oxfam America from taking part in oral arguments over SEC rules that force oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. Oxfam, which has formally intervened in the case on the SEC’s side, had asked the court to make separate arguments, saying the non-profit has a number of arguments that are distinct from those of the SEC. Oil industry and business groups urged the court not to give Oxfam time to defend the regulation, The Hill said.

Wisconsin’s state Assembly approved a bill that would clear the way for a possible $1.5 billion iron ore mine in the far northwest corner of the state, by streamlining environmental regulations. The bill would set a 420-day limit for the state Department of Natural Resources to approve or deny a permit for iron ore mining. The state Senate approved the bill in February; it goes next to Republican Governor Scott Walker, who supports the legislation, Reuters said

The US Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute will run increased grassroots campaigns to build local support for the Keystone XL pipeline. The oil-and-gas lobby will turn to construction and manufacturing union partners to help coordinate rallies in the Midwest in support of Keystone. The Chamber will mobilize local chapters through emails, social media and the Partnership to Fuel America, a campaign centered around businesses along Keystone’s proposed route, The Hill said.

Eight Senate Democrats are urging Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, not to advance legislation that would give coastal states a share of royalties from oil-and-gas production off their shores. The lawmakers said they will oppose legislation that expands offshore drilling or provides revenue-sharing incentives to coastal states because such a law would compensates a single state while other nearby states bear the risk, The Hill said.

China’s environment ministry has said it will impose special emissions restrictions on major industries including steel, petrochemicals cement, non-ferrous metals and coal-fired power, beginning in April. Industry analysts say that the laws are designed not only to tackle pollution, but to support large state-owned steel companies. The government wants its top 10 mills to control 60 percent of total capacity by 2015, up from about half now. Administrative measures like pollution and resource-use standards are methods to reach that goal, Reuters said.

Greenland, which has self-rule from Denmark aside from defense and security, holds a general election on Tuesday. The vote is seen as a referendum on the country’s level of cooperation with international mining and energy companies as Greenland’s geopolitical role changes due to the opening of new sea lanes, minerals and oil fields, Reuters said.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to turn over information about national gas rate proceedings over the last four years. The proceedings were initiated to investigate whether rates charged by national gas pipeline operators were fair. The lawmakers are also asking for details of an inquiry prompted by an outside complaint accusing pipeline firms of collecting unreasonable and unjust fees for transportation, storage and fuel, The Hill said.

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