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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: US Climate Fund, Drought Help, Cap-and-Trade Fines

President Obama on Friday unveiled proposals for a $1 billion fund to help communities prepare for the effects of climate change. Money would go to research, “breakthrough technologies” and infrastructure. But the fund – which Obama will formally outline in his 2015 budget in March – requires Congressional approval, Reuters says.

President Obama announced that up to $100 million will be available within 60 days to help California farmers who lost livestock to drought, with about $1 billion available across the country. The money comes from the $956 billion farm bill that Obama signed last week, Reuters reports.

The EPA has requested comment on its renewal of the Information Collection Request for the Federal Implementation Plans to Reduce Interstate Transport of Fine Particulate Matter and Ozone. 

The Australian government announced plans today to review the country’s renewable energy target, which mandates that 20 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. The review will consider the RET’s effects on emissions, electricity prices, energy markets and the larger economy. Environment minister Greg Hunt last month proposed delaying the target by five years, Reuters reports.

The California Air Resources Board says it has resolved four enforcement cases related improper disclosures and other errors related to cap-and-trade auctions. Southern California Edison will pay $75,000 for making public comments about participating in the first allowance auction in November 2012. Luminus Energy Partners will pay $40,000 for sharing bidding information with an advisor who had not been disclosed to the ARB. CP Energy Marketing will pay $25,000 for disclosing some auction plans to a third party. The City of Riverside will pay $25,000 for submitting bids that exceeded the financial bid guarantee required by auction regulations.  

Officials testing at an underground nuclear waste site near Carlsbad, N.M. detected unusually high levels of radioactive particles on Saturday, Reuters reported. The site has had false positives in the past, a Department of Energy spokesman said, but the unusually high levels detected this weekend appear to show a real event – the first since the plant opened in 1999.

The U.S. Department of Energy is proposing to revise and expand its existing regulations governing compliance with energy conservation standards for commercial heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, water heating, and refrigeration equipment. The revisions include the addition of a definition for “engineered-to-order equipment,” and a requirement for manufacturers to provide customer-specified model numbers.

Maryland’s attorney general has submitted an amicus brief to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, supporting the EPA’s defense of total maximum daily load regulations for the Chesapeake Bay.

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