Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Lightbulb Ban Delayed; EU Carbon Market; Hydropower Bill

by | Dec 19, 2011

The House has voted to delay enforcement of new light bulb efficiency standards until at least Oct. 1 as part of a last-minute budget deal to keep the government operating through the rest of the fiscal year, and the Senate is expected to follow suit. Republicans have vowed to press for a full repeal of the new rules, writes the New York Times.

The EU parliament is expected to vote Tuesday to allow for intervention in the EU carbon market. The troubled EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) could benefit from an amendment to control availability of carbon allowances, business and environmental groups have argued. However, an amendment would not be binding, requiring review and approval by member state governments in 2012, Reuters reports.

Denmark’s turn at the EU’s presidency beginning January 1 is likely to include a push for the stalled Energy Efficiency Directive, and the Danish chair for environmental and energy issues presents the leadership’s “green priorities” today in the Council. The Danish see the Energy Efficiency Directive as a top priority, but they are less bullish on the timetable, writes EurActiv.

The two-month extension payroll tax cut legislation, which passed in the Senate Saturday, includes the 60-day timeframe for the president to decide on the Keystone XL pipeline. The legislation says that the pipeline, if permitted, would automatically meet the National Environmental Policy Act requirements guidelines and that any route change would not need to undergo further environmental review, says the New York Times.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has given final approval to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite the ongoing issues in Washington. TransCanada said that the project had been granted regulatory approval in the other U.S. states where it would run – except for Montana and Nebraska, and the company continues to discuss routing options within Nebraska, Reuters reports.

Bipartisan members of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce have introduced a bill to promote the expanded development and use of hydropower – the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2011. The bill’s authors say that hydropower has the potential to create 700,000 new jobs in the next 14 years.

Cameron International, who made the blowout preventer that failed in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has agreed to pay $250 million to BP. Cameron’s insurers would pay $170 million of the $250 million sum and will be indemnified from claims related to the Oil Pollution Act and environmental damage, but not against fines, penalties or certain other types of claims, the Washington Post reports.

Pelican Refining Company was sentenced to pay $12 million for felony violations of the Clean Air Act and for obstruction of justice charges in federal court in Lafayette, La., the EPA said. In a joint factual statement filed in court, Pelican, headquartered in Houston, Texas, admitted that the company had knowingly committed criminal violations of its operating permit at the refinery in Lake Charles, La.

A former paper mill in Otsgeo, Mich., is under investigation after 200 creates and barrels of hazardous waste,containing acid the EPA said was strong enough to cause severe burns, were discovered. EPA will use its authority under the Superfund law to identify activities, materials and parties that contributed to the waste at the site, the Kalamazoo News reports.

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