Energy and Environment Update - June 19, 2011

by Mintz Levin

Energy and Climate Debate:

The Senate voted, 73-27, June 16 to approve Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) amendment (S. Amdt. No. 476) eliminating the 45 cent per gallon tax credit for ethanol refiners and remove the 54 cent per gallon import tariff on the alternative fuel. The vote on the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit may have ramifications on future votes to reduce the deficit, as many Republican Senators supported the bill even though it does not include another tax break to offset the elimination of the tax credit. An identical measure introduced by Senators Feinstein and Tom Coburn (R-OK) failed two days prior on procedural grounds. A second amendment, offered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to prevent federal funds from being used to build ethanol blender pumps or storage facilities, failed.

Senators Feinstein and Coburn will continue to negotiate with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) on a compromise measure. The two farm state senators introduced legislation to phase out the ethanol subsidies more gradually, and hope to reform, but not eliminate, federal support for ethanol.


Uranium Legislation Considered; DOE Scrutinized; Canadian Pipeline Decision Hastened; EPA May Delay Toxics Rule; House Committee Approves Spending Bill; House Passes USDA Budget; Legislation Introduced; and Upcoming Hearings.


Smart Grid Report Released; OMB Completes RFS Review; Mobile Standards Finalized in July; and OMB Reviewing Secondary Air Standards.

Department of Energy:

$275 Million Loan Guarantee; $30 Million for Efficiency Training; REC Webinar Upcoming; Energy Performance and Building Appraisal Partnership Formed; $1.2 Billion and Loan Guarantees; and VT Wins EcoCAR.

Department of Transportation:

$175 Million for Sustainable Communities

Environmental Protection Agency:

CA Vehicle Standard Revisions OK; Diesel Performance Standards Revised; NSP Deadline Extended; Court Rejects EPA WI Approval Challenge; and ACC Challenges EPA GHG Rules.


Richard Newell announced last week that after nearly two years of service as the Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, he will return next month to his position as professor of energy and environmental economics at Duke University. EIA Deputy Administrator Howard Gruenspecht will serve as Acting Administrator effective July 1...


CARB’s Revised Analysis Supports Cap and Trade

The California Air Resources Board released an alternatives analysis June 13 of its plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Issued in response to a court order, the document evaluates the impacts of a “no project” alternative, a cap and trade program, direct regulation of sources, a carbon fee or tax, and a combination of measures including cap and trade, and finds the same conclusion as the initial environmental analysis: that a cap and trade program is the best strategy for achieving the reductions required under the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (A.B. 32).

Geothermal May Increase Tenfold

The International Energy Agency released a report June 14 finding that global production of heat and electricity from geothermal energy could be increased at least tenfold by mid-century with the right policies in place. The report, Technology Roadmap: Geothermal Heat and Power, called on governments to provide resources to help develop at least 50 pilot plants using hot rock resources in the next decade.

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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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