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Container ship Olga Maersk

Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Feds’ Carbon Cost, Ship Emissions, ‘Sue and Settle’

Container ship Olga MaerskRep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced a bill that would force the White House to seek public feedback on its estimate for the social cost of carbon. The administration raised its estimate to $38 per metric ton in 2015, from $23.80, as part of standards for microwave ovens. But the calculation now applies to rules across the federal government, Bloomberg reports.

Owners of ships over 5,000 gross tons using EU ports will have to report annual carbon emissions from 2018, under a European Commission plan published Friday. The EC did not propose including ships in the EU carbon market. The proposals will likely be debated for months, and will need approval from member states and the European Parliament before they become law.

House Republicans on Friday called for the Government Accountability Office to investigate “sue and settle tactics” – lawsuit settlements that trigger new regulations – at the EPA. Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Reps. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) say the practice encourages the agency to make decisions behind closed doors, the Hill reports. 

The UK government raised the 2014 draft subsidy level or “strike price” for wind farms by almost 10 percent to £155 ($236) per MWh for offshore and £100 for onshore, but reduced the contract length from 20 to 15 years, the Guardian reports. Experts warned that uncertainties under the new system may prolong financing difficulties for renewable energy companies.

Shoppers in Scotland will have to pay at least 5 pence (8 cents) for single-use shopping bags starting in October. The charge will apply to all retailers and all bag materials. Wales and Northern Ireland have similar measures already, the Guardian says.

Minnesota and Oakland, Calif., have introduced bird-friendly building design requirements, the American Bird Conservancy says. Oakland’s rules are similar to those established in San Francisco in 2011, while Minnesota based its rules on the LEED “Reducing Bird Collisions” program.

The Department of the Interior has approved BP Wind Energy’s Mohave County Wind Farm, which would install up to 243 turbines on federal lands in northwestern Arizona, providing up to 500 MW of power. The company agreed mitigation efforts, including a 20 percent reduction of the project’s footprint, to protect wildlife and other resources.

Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have introduced the Open Fuel Standard Act (H.R. 2493), which would require 30 percent of new automobiles in 2016 and 50 percent after that to use non-petroleum fuels, in whole or in part. The percentages are a big reduction from previously introduced legislation, which would have required that 95 percent of new cars eventually be able to run on non-petroleum fuels, Green Car Congress reports.

Pfizer subsidiary King Pharmaceuticals will pay $2.2 million to the federal and Tennessee governments and must demonstrate compliance with air pollution standards, to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at Bristol, Tenn., manufacturing facility. In May UPM Pharmaceuticals announced it was acquiring the facility, and this will not affect the settlement, the EPA said.

Gas product supplier Matheson Tri-Gas has paid a $73,790 penalty for not submitting a required risk management plan for a facility in Palm, Pa., the EPA said. The facility was required to submit a risk management plan because it maintained more than the threshold amount of methane, propylene and isobutane.

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