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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: AZ Solar Ruling, GMO Veto Override, China’s ‘Red Lines’

The Arizona Corporation Commission has agreed, 3-2, to preserve the state’s net metering system for distributed solar power but to levy a 70 cents per kW charge to help compensate utilities. That is between one-eight and one-tenth of the charge the utilities had sought. Regulators also told the utilities to re-evaluate their entire rate structure, the New York Times reports.

The Kauai County Council in Hawaii overrode a mayoral veto, 5-2, on a bill instituting pesticide disclosure rules and buffer zones for genetically modified crops. Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said he will work with county departments to implement the law, PBS reports. But seed companies may sue the county.

House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), energy and power subcommittee chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and subcommittee vice-chairman Steve Scalise (R-LA) urged EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to withdraw carbon standards for new power plants. They say the Energy Policy Act of 2005 prohibits the EPA from considering technology used at the Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative projects as “adequately demonstrated” for purposes of Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

Japan met its Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emissions goals through carbon offsets and carbon credits, while its actual emissions rose, according to Reuters (citing the Nikkei and Asahi newspapers). Last week it emerged that Japan has dramatically cut its 2020 emissions reduction target, from 25 percent below 2005 figures to just 3.8 percent below.

China will consider environmental protection factors more when assessing officials and will strengthen local governmental powers to punish pollution, the ruling Communist Party said in a package of economic and social reforms, Reuters reported. According to the document, China will move away from an attitude of pursuing economic growth at all costs, and will draw an “ecological protection red line” limiting the economic development of vulnerable regions.

The energy and power subpanel of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday and Wednesday on HR 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act. The legislation aims to consolidate and modernize the cross-boundary permitting process for oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines.

California’s Department of Conservation on Friday published proposed regulatory language to implement a law on fracking, signed by governor Jerry Brown in September. Chief deputy director Jason Marshall said one of the key provisions, for mandatory groundwater monitoring at oilfields, will expand a limited baseline of data about groundwater quality. The regulations will also eventually require oil and gas companies to report where they get their water, Reuters says.

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