Energy and Environment Update - May 8, 2011

by Mintz Levin
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Energy and Climate Debate:

Though it is too early to tell what, if any, impact Osama bin Laden’s death will have on global energy markets, and even with much of the Congressional debate shifting to foreign policy last week, significant work was undertaken last week on energy legislation, and the weeks between now and the Memorial Day recess will bring much of the same.

Though the Senate still needs to finish work on a small business package, Senate leadership may opt to bring a bill to the floor this week to repeal tax breaks for large oil and natural gas companies. The Senate legislation, which has not yet been introduced, will likely resemble the blueprint Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) released April 28. Senator Baucus’ plan would exempt the largest oil and gas companies from the Section 199 tax deduction for domestic manufacturers and create an excise tax for some leases in the Gulf of Mexico, using the increased revenue for investments in clean energy infrastructure and to promote the use of fuel efficient vehicles. It is unlikely Senate Democrats will be able to hit the necessary 60 vote threshold, as proposals to raise oil industry taxes has drawn near-unanimous opposition from Republicans and seven Senate Democrats have already voted against ending oil tax breaks earlier this Congress. Even so, supporters of the legislation hope that by pushing the language, they can begin to reshape the energy debate by addressing gas prices.

Congress:

House Passes Offshore Leasing Legislation; Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Clears Commerce Committee; Packed Schedule for ENR Committee; MI Senators Concerned about China; Hydropower Hearing Held; Legislation Introduced; and Upcoming Hearings.

Department of Energy:

$47 Million for Biomass R&D and Fracking Advisory Group Announced.

Department of Interior:

MA Wind Area Halved; Federal Lands Energy Development Assessed; and BLM Holds Scoping Meeting.

Department of Transportation:

Updated CAFE Standards on Track.

Environmental Protection Agency:

Boiler MACT Challenged; Mercury Rule Released and Power Plants Request Withdrawal; $2.5 Million for UN University; TX Takeover Extended; Battle of the Buildings Announced; and Permit Objection Requested.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:

Power Plant Regs to Drive Clean Generation.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Nuclear Safety Rules Face Transparent Development Process.

Supreme Court:

Supreme Court Asked to Review Appellate MACT Requirement Ruling.

Personnel:

Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D. was sworn in May 3 as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Deputy Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Miscellaneous:

OCS Coalition Formed; RGGI Emissions Rise; Alberta Issues CCS Rules; Japan to Meet UNFCCC Pledge; South Korea Outlines Export Incentives; GCCA Stages Contest; NC Certification Authority Upheld; Indirect Land Use Criteria May Threaten Biofuels; April Car Sales Up; Mayors May Support Gas Tax Increase; Arctic Shows Accelerated Climate Change; Youth File Public Trust Lawsuit; Loopholes and Nonbinding Targets Threaten EU Goals; Climate Change Challenges Asia; Canada’s Northern Territories Propose Adaptation Plan; MA Proposes New Biomass Criteria; Sao Paulo Emissions Increasing; Mercury Reductions Needed; India to Relax Plastic Waste Rules; and CA Passes Benefit Class Legislation.

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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