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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Bonn Climate Talks, Water Act, Dam Protest

Delegates from 160 nations agreed in Bonn that a successor to the Kyoto Protocol should allow emissions targets to be tightened without further negotiations, if researchers find that floods, droughts and sea levels are worsening, Reuters reported. But a deep divide remains between China, which says developed nations should collectively cut emissions by 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and the US, which is asking for about 4 percent.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2013 is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, according to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The committee unanimously approved the bill, which would make low-interest loans available for water infrastructure projects, in March. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) has said the House would introduce its own version by late spring or early summer.

Protests by about 200 Amazon Indians halted work on the 11,233 MW Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, the world’s third-largest, Reuters reports. The protesters are demanding that Brazil’s government hold consultations with indigenous peoples before building dams that might affect their land and livelihoods. The government maintains that it did this as required by the country’s constitution.

The EPA says it has improved its conflict of interest review process for contractor-managed peer reviews, with new oversight to ensure that contractors follow regulations and guidance. The agency says it will also ensure the public has opportunities to review and comment on the composition of peer review panels considering influential scientific documents.

The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing Wednesday entitled, DOI Hydraulic Fracturing Rule: A Recipe for Government Waste, Duplication and Delay.” The committee says states have been successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing for the past 60 years without a single instance of ground water contamination, and that possible new federal regulation could be costly and damaging to job creation and energy development.

The House will vote on a bill this month to speed permitting for the Keystone XL pipeline, according to majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), quoted in the Hill. The bill is likely to pass with support from all Republicans and some Democrats. The Hill previously reported that Keystone XL will need State Department approval to proceed, but now says the bill would circumvent the Obama administration’s jurisdiction to secure a cross-border permit for the pipeline.

The environment and energy subcommittees of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a joint hearing to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline tomorrow. Witnesses include representatives of the Cato Institute, National Resources Defense Council, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, and United Transportation Advisors.

The Obama administration has announced almost $600 million in funding for 28 projects to address damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Louisiana barrier islands will receive about $320 million for restoration of beaches and marshes, the Hill reports. A list of other funded projects is here.

The energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on “US Energy Abundance: Exports and the Changing Global Energy Landscape.” The subcommittee said it will examine potential effects of liquefied natural gas exports, including job creation and reducing the trade deficit.

A report by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council found that LNG exports will spur job creation. The report said the oil and gas industry has been a “rare bright spot” in the US economy, the House Energy and Commerce Committee said.

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