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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Renewable Fuel Standard, Japan Slashes GHG Target

The EPA is likely to reveal the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard mandates today, Reuters reports. Agency officials have told industry representatives that the EPA may raise quotas above the level contained in a draft plan in August, Bloomberg reports.

Japan has dramatically cut its 2020 emissions reduction target, from 25 percent below 2005 figures to just 3.8 percent below, Reuters reports. At UN climate talks in Warsaw, China, the EU and low-lying island nations criticized the move, though Japan said it planned to compensate by raising $16 billion in public and private funds, by 2015, to help developing nations tackle their emissions, the Guardian reports.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has unveiled legislation to repeal the country’s carbon tax, fulfilling a key election pledge. The tax employs the world’s highest carbon price, A$23 ($22.23) per metric ton, and is due to move to a cap-and-trade system by mid-2014. Abbott proposes replacing this with a “direct action plan” including market-based incentives and an emission reduction fund, Reuters reports.

carbon tax would be the most effective policy for reducing the US deficit, according to a Congressional Budget Office evaluation of 103 widely varying approaches. CBO said a $25 per ton tax that rises 2 percent a year would generate over $1 trillion in 10 years, The Hill reports.

The House Natural Resources Committee approved, 24-15, Rep. Bill Johnson’s (R-OH) legislation designed to prevent the Department of the Interior from tightening regulation on “mountaintop removal” mining projects in Appalachia. The Office of Surface Mining is expected to put out its new rule next year, to replace 2008 regulations, The Hill reports.

Energy companies will be required to test nearby water before drilling oil and natural gas wells, under a rule approved by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Governor Matt Mead said this testing will protect landowners, but also shield companies from potential unfair allegations of water contamination. A draft EPA report in late 2011 found that fracking fluids had likely contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyo., but the agency later decided to let the state take over the investigation.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved Kathryn Sullivan’s nominations for head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and under-secretary for oceans and atmosphere at the Commerce Department; and Robert Simon’s nomination for associate director for environment and energy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, The Hill reports.

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