Policy & Enforcement Briefing: China Gas Tax, EPA Lawsuits, California Recycling Law

by | Oct 12, 2011

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China will impose a nationwide value-based sales tax on oil and natural gas beginning next month, Bloomberg reported. The country’s Ministry of Finance said the natural resources tax will be 5 to 10 percent of sales and will be assessed on both domestic producers and joint ventures with overseas companies.

Two dozen more power companies, cities, states and industry groups filed lawsuits last week to block the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, bringing to 30 the total number of challenges in the U.S. Court of Appeals, The New York Times reported. All of the lawsuits will be consolidated into a single proceeding. Among those filing lawsuits were Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group Inc., the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, Peabody Energy Corp. and the United Mine Workers of America.

Another lawsuit against the EPA was filed on Tuesday as a coalition of environmental groups revived a 2008 challenge to ozone standards imposed by the Bush administration, The Hill reported. The Bush-era smog rules are back in place after President Obama killed an EPA plan to tighten the standards.

Twenty-five states petitioned a federal court to require the agency to delay the so-called utility MACT rule limiting mercury and other emissions from power plants, Reuters reported. The states’ attorney said some officials at the EPA want to “shut down as many coal-fired power plants as possible.” Unless the court intervenes, the utility MACT rule is set to become final on Nov. 16.

President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness on Tuesday recommended measures to revive the ailing economy, including lowering regulatory burdens on business, upgrading the nation’s electric grid and continuing the controversial government financing program to spur clean energy projects, CNN reported. However, the American Petroleum Institute criticized the council’s report, saying the panel overlooked more than a million jobs that can be created by increasing domestic drilling, Oil and Gas Online reported.

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that it will fast-track permitting and environmental review for 14 infrastructure projects, including fixes on the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, a new rail line in Baltimore, a market in Washington, D.C. and a wind generation facility in California, The Hill reported. The White House said it is committed to cutting “red tape” on projects that will create jobs and boost the economy.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin unveiled an ambitious new energy plan this week that requires the state to receive 90 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, Vermont Public Radio reported.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a law that sets a high goal of recycling 75 percent of the state’s trash by 2020, The North Country Times reported. The new legislation requires schools, stores, offices, government buildings and apartment complexes to develop recycling programs by July 2012 and creates financial incentives for expanding plastic processing facilities.

Australia’s plan for a national carbon tax on its 500 biggest polluters passed its highest hurdle on Tuesday with a vote in the lower house of parliament, Reuters reported. The tax plan passed by just two votes in the chamber with the most opposition.

Environment ministers from eleven European Union countries said they would commit to a new phase of the Kyoto Protocol only if the U.S., China and India set a timetable to join, Reuters reported. The next global climate conference starts in November in Durban, South Africa.

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