Policy & Enforcement Briefing: German Solar Subsidies, Australian Carbon Price, Honda Hybrid Suit

by | May 14, 2012

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The German parliament’s upper house has rallied enough support to delay plans to cut solar subsidies for as long as several months. But those opposing the proposal to slash feed-in tariffs by between 20 and nearly 40 percent did not get a big enough majority to reject the law outright, Reuters said.

A carbon-pricing expert from the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute has said that Australian Treasury’s forecast for carbon prices of $29 per ton in 2015-16 is “unrealistic in the extreme,” and a more realistic estimate is $5. The forecast puts the budget at risk if the floor price is not maintained, The Australian said.

A California Superior Court judge overturned a small-claims court judgment against Honda in a case involving the Civic Hybrid car. The car owner had earlier won an award of $9,867 after claiming the car maker misrepresented the fuel economy of the 2006 Civic, rated at 50 miles per gallon, the Wall Street Journal said.

A proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission would double to 10 percent the electricity cap of the state’s net metering program. Net metering, which gives solar array owners a credit for surplus power that they generate, is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program currently is capped at five percent of a utility’s aggregate customer peak demand, meaning that once utilities get five percent of their generation from net metering, they are not required to sign on any more participants, writes the San Jose Mercury News.

Two U.S. lawmakers have proposed a bill to cut tax breaks for US oil, gas and coal companies, which they estimate will save more than $113 billion in subsidies over 10 years. The bill also aims to cut funding for industry research programs, loan guarantees and infrastructure funding, the Chicago Tribune said.

Five states so far have failed to pass proposed laws seeking to prevent states and cities from endorsing or implementing the United Nations Agenda 21 principles of sustainable development. One such bill died in Arizona last week. But three other states – Alabama, Kansas and Louisiana – still are trying to pass similar bans, writes InsideClimate News. Last week, the Kansas House of Representatives adopted a non-binding resolution condemning Agenda 21, the Huffington Post said.

The owners of the Dubai Star reached a settlement related to a spill into San Francisco Bay in 2009. The ship’s owner, Panama-based South Harmony Shipping, and its operator, Dubai-based Pioneer Ship Management Services, were ordered to pay $1.4 million in damages and $550,000 in penalties in a settlement with local governments, writes the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating whether the work environment under a deputy director at NRC in Arlington, Texas, discouraged enforcement actions, and whether there was a case of retaliation against agency staff who raised safety concerns about Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun Station, which sparked an investigation, Fuel Fix said.

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