Energy and Environment Update - June 5, 2011

by Mintz Levin
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Energy and Climate Debate:

With the debt limit and budget serving as the principle areas of focus for the time being, the budget is rapidly becoming the battleground where the near future of energy policy will be decided. The Senate returns from its week-long Memorial Day recess June 6, while members of the House will spend the week in their home districts.

The House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee cleared a $30.6 billion fiscal year 2012 funding measure for the Department of Energy ($24.7 billion) and Army Corps of Engineers ($4.8 billion) June 2. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) promised to move the bill through the full committee and to the House floor before the August recess. Overall, the legislation would cut renewable energy and energy efficiency funding while increasing funding for fossil fuel programs. The budget is $6 billion less than what President Obama requested and $850 million less than the FY 2011 spending levels, and put spending on par with 2005 levels, though $35 million was added to continue operation of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository that President Obama has sought to close...

Congress:

ENR Continues with Full Schedule; House Subcommittee Approves EPA Measures; Administration Denies Causing High Gas Prices; Open Fuel Standard Promoted; Expanded Oil and Gas Development Sought; Additional Keystone XL Review Requested; Reverse Auction Sparks Interest; Practical Energy Plan Forthcoming; Legislation Introduced; and Upcoming Hearings.

Administration:

Fleet Performance Memo Released.

Department of Energy:

$45.6 Million Loan Guarantee Announced; $27 Million for Solar Projects; Streamlining Efforts Underway; and Education Challenge Launched.

Department of Interior:

Streamlining Efforts Underway.

Environmental Protection Agency:

Fuel Economy Labels Announced; Landfill Methane Collaboration Announced; Confidential Data Specified; Advisors Caution Study of Fracking Risks; and Additional Lawsuits Filed.

Federal Trade Commission:

Alternative Fuel Labeling Comments Requested.

Personnel:

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu recently hired Lauren Azar as a senior energy advisor. Previously, Ms. Azar served on the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, and has also served as President of the Organization of MISO states. She was co-founder and the first President of the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council.

On May 31, President Obama announced his intent to nominate John Bryson as his next secretary of Commerce. Mr. Bryson is a director of The Boeing Company, The Walt Disney Company, and Coda Automotive., Inc. Previously, he served as chairman and CEO of Edison International, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, and chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board. He was also a cofounder and attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Miscellaneous:

Philippines Prioritizes Climate Changes Issues

Philippines President Benigno Aquino issued Executive Order No. 43 May 16 to create a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Cluster, along with five other cabinet clusters to guide the adoption of strategies and measures by local governments, national agencies, and the general public.

CARB Challenges Court Order

On behalf of the California Air Resources Board, the state’s attorney general filed a notice of appeal May 23 with the California Superior Court in San Francisco taking the first step to challenge a court order that temporarily blocks the state’s greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. On May 20, Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith held that CARB had failed to adequately weigh alternatives to the cap and trade program when the agency adopted the A.B. 32 scoping plan. Leaders of more than four dozen clean technology companies and venture capital firms urged California Governor Jerry Brown (D) May 31 to make a commitment to fully implement A.B. 32; the governor has yet to comment on the recent court order...

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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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