Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Mediterranean Blue Economy, UK Solar Tariff Revamp, Energy Dept. Loans

by | Feb 13, 2012

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Delegates from 22 Mediterranean and EU countries have called for the creation of a “blue economy” initiative to safeguard the Mediterranean environment, mirroring the UNEP’s green economy initiative. The delegates hope to see a strategic policy framework adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) in Brazil this June.

The UK government has announced its plans for a revamp to its feed-in tariffs (FITs). The proposals, if implemented, would introduce a new tariff for solar PV schemes up to 4kW in size of 21.0p/kWh – down from the current 43.3p/kWh. The new tariffs are designed to apply to all installations with an eligibility date from 3 March 3 onwards.

An outside review of the Energy Department’s $23.8 billion portfolio of loan guarantees calls for several steps to improve oversight but also provides lower estimates of taxpayer risk than an earlier federal forecast. The amount of money considered at risk in the loan portfolio is almost $3 billion, less than an earlier Energy Department assessment of about $5 billion, The Hill reports.

The Energy Department said that more recipients of  its green technology loan guarantees will likely collapse despite the strength of the program overall. Secretary Chu said that the vast majority of companies are expected to repay the loans in full, and with about $8 billion in interest while accounting for about 60,000 jobs, The Hill reports.

The Energy Department will host a March 13 meeting for senior financial-firm executives to tout the benefits of investing in renewable energy, the Wall Street Journal reports. The 79 invitees include some of the largest companies in the U.S., including Exxon Mobil and Walt Disney.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has sent an oversight letter to the EPA requesting information about $2.26 billion the agency holds in its Superfund Trust Fund that remain uncommitted. The EPA requested $1.24 billion in funding for the FY2012 Superfund program, so the committee requested information about the unused balances from FY2011.

The EPA has reached an agreement with New Cingular Wireless to resolve voluntarily disclosed reporting violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). New Cingular Wireless reported and corrected violations related to the presence of sulfuric acid, diesel, and lead at 642 cellular facilities in 35 states and Puerto Rico. The company will pay a civil penalty of $125,728, the EPA said.

The $1 billion expected in first-year revenue from California’s emissions trading program could be distributed to state residents or used to reduce the state’s projected deficits, according to a report from the government watchdog group Legislative Analyst’s Office. The report comes as California prepares to implement its 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, the law set to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, Reuters said.

The Pennsylvania DEP has fined Oklahoma City-based gas driller Chesapeake Energy $565,000 for violations of three separate of rules protecting streams and wetlands at locations in Bradford County, Potter County and a wetlands area, Bloomberg reports.

The State of Texas has filed its opening brief challenging the EPA’s decision to impose greenhouse gas regulations in the state, with the state’s Attorney General saying that the regulations put Texas jobs in danger and impact the state’s energy independence and economic recovery, writes the Houston Business Journal.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is asking for proposals to release $18.7 million in funding to projects developing infrastructure for hydrogen transportation fuel. The goal is to fund expansion of public retail and public-private fleet-based hydrogen fueling stations servicing fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) and to accommodate the planned large-scale roll-out of FCVs commencing in 2015, writes Green Car Congress.

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