Energy and Environment Update - June 12, 2011

by Mintz Levin
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Energy and Climate Debate:

Energy issues will continue to be included in the ongoing debate over the debt limit and budget in the coming weeks while several House and Senate committees will examine a broad range of energy issues this week.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) outlined in a June 10 memo to his colleagues items he hoped to take to the House floor in the upcoming months. For example, between now and August 5, Representative Cantor expects to schedule votes on two energy bills, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act (H.R. 2021) and the North American-Made Energy Security Act (H.R. 1938).

Congress:

1703 Funding Halt Requested; Udall Legislation Encourages DOD Sustainability; EERE Funding Faces Cuts; Legislation Introduced; and Upcoming Hearings.

Administration:

Manufacturing Training Initiative Announced and Jobs and Competitiveness Council Hosts Listening Sessions.

Department of Agriculture:

$17.4 Million for Nine Projects

The Department of Agriculture awarded $17.4 million to nine projects June 8 to help farmers, ranchers, and forest owners reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservation and nutrient management efforts and bolster their efforts to obtain carbon credits for reducing emissions. The awards include $7.4 million for large-scale emissions mitigation efforts in 24 states funded under USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants, as well as $10 million in funding from the agency’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to help agricultural producers implement emissions-reducing conservation practices.

Department of Energy:

Regional Efficiency Standards Finalized; $15 Million for Lighting; $70 Million for Geothermal Advances; $350 Million Loan Guarantee for Geothermal Project; and $36 Million for Biofuels Advances.

Department of State:

Thousands of Keystone XL Comments Submitted

State Department officials said June 6 that the agency has received thousands of public comments on a supplemental environmental impact statement for the proposed $7 billion, 1,700 mile Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The agency plans to make a decision on whether to grand a cross-border permit by the end of the year, and June 6 was the deadline for filing comments on the statement, but the agency will hold six additional forums for public comment as it reviews permit applications for the pipeline. The current statement found no major environmental issues that could not be mitigated, but he Environmental Protection Agency has objected to the statement because it contains insufficient information to fully assess the project’s effects on groundwater, alternative pipeline routes, greenhouse gas emissions, wetlands, and migratory birds.

Environmental Protection Agency:

EPA May Miss NSP Deadline; Truck GHG Rule to OMB; Catalytic Reduction System Guidance Unveiled; Mobile and Stationary Source Rules Challenged; Indoor Spaces Impacted by Climate Change; and Adaptation Plan Next June.

Personnel:

President Obama nominated Rebecca Wodder to be assistant secretary for fish and wildlife at the Interior Department June 8. Ms. Wodder is the president and CEO of American Rivers and a former aide to Senator Gaylord Nelson on environmental and energy issues.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved the nomination of William Ostendorff to a new term on the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission June 9. His nomination must now be approved by the full Senate.

Miscellaneous:

Nuke Recycling Center Proposed

Speaking at a media briefing June 6, Jacques Besnainou, chief executive officer of North American operations for AREVA Inc., said that the French-owned nuclear company hopes to begin preparations by 2015 to build a nuclear recycling facility in the United States. He said that the $20 to $30 billion needed to build such a large-scale reprocessing operation could come from the Nuclear Waste Fund that was intended to finance construction of a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain and suggested the creation of a quasi-governmental entity to oversee the operations.

50 Percent Natural Gas Demand Increase

The International Energy Agency published a report June 6 finding that natural gas demand could increase 50 percent by 2035 as the fuel becomes an inexpensive and widely available energy source. The report, Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas? found that gas will account for more than 25 percent of worldwide energy demand by 2035.

Please see full update below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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