Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Energy IG Report, Keystone XL Reroute, Pickens Plan

by | Nov 16, 2011

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The criticism is coming from all corners for the Energy Department. The department’s inspector general issued a report on Tuesday recommending that the department rein in wasteful spending at its 16 laboratories, The New York Times reported. The laboratories’ budget is $13 billion, and the inspector general noted that operations could be combined at its three centers for nuclear weapons work, two for Navy propulsion reactors, five for energy technology and 13 for general science.

The EPA said it has caught more than a dozen major companies, including Morgan Stanley, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, in a scheme involving fraudulent renewable energy credits, Reuters reported. The agency has issued notices of violation alleging that the companies used invalid renewable identification numbers purchased from Clean Green Fuel L.L.C., a company whose owner has been charged with carrying out a $9 million scam involving the distribution of 32 million invalid credits.

A Nebraska state senator said that TransCanada has agreed to adjust the route of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to avoid the Sand Hills region of the state and the Ogallala aquifer, The New York Times reported. The offer from TransCanada comes less than a week after President Obama delayed a final decision on the $7 billion project.

The advertisements no longer blanket television airwaves, but oil and gas tycoon T. Boone Pickens’ plan to convert cars to natural gas and ramp up related infrastructure is back on the table in the U.S. Senate, The Hill reported. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., along with Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., are pushing legislation to adopt the s0-called “Pickens Plan,” perhaps as an amendment to an appropriations bill.

The European Union will likely vote in favor of a resolution on Wednesday that slightly increases carbon reduction goals ahead of this month’s global climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, Reuters reported. The resolution will be nonbinding, but a gesture intended to convince the world’s largest emitters to join a new phase of the Kyoto protocol.

In European Union news, the bloc’s trade authority announced Tuesday that it will launch an investigation into whether U.S. bioethanol exporters are receiving unfair state subsidies and selling their fuel to Europe at illegally deflated prices, Reuters reported. The European Commission investigation could result in higher tariffs if officials find evidence of unfair trade practices.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and James Inhofe, R-Okla., sent letters to the EPA and White House Office of Management and Budget, demanding responses to their questions on proposed mercury and air toxic reductions in the Utility MACT rule. The senators say in their letter that the EPA avoided public comment on the rule’s impact on the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.

Despite the loss of New Jersey and dwindling auction prices, a new study has found that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state cap-and-trade market in the Northeast, has saved money for consumers and contributed to job growth in local communities, The New York Times reported. Overall, the study found that the regional economy would gain more than $1.6 billion from actions taken under the initiative, but still, New Jersey and, perhaps New Hampshire, are on the verge of quitting.

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