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Climate Policy Watch

Industry Divisions Complicate Senate Push For Federal Climate Plan

A barrage of comments sent to the Senate on the design of possible climate change legislation underscores significant divisions within the utility industry and other sectors on how to proceed in developing a regulatory system to control greenhouse gases.

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EPA AIR STANDARDS OFFICE EYES NEW FOCUS AS PART OF MAJOR OVERHAUL

EPA's air standards office will soon complete a major reorganization that will include a new focus on reducing emissions of both air toxics and criteria pollutants, an expansion into voluntary, sector-based programs and renewed attention on controlling climate change, according to agency officials and sources briefed on the effort.

In addition, EPA sources say a separate effort is underway within the agency's climate change division in EPA's Office of Atmospheric Programs to consolidate a number of existing functions related to climate change and economic analysis.

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EPA DEVELOPING POLICY ON CO2 STORAGE, BUT FACES LONG-TERM QUESTIONS

EPA is developing first-time guidelines addressing the permitting of pilot projects for underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage -- an alternative to letting the greenhouse gas escape into the atmosphere -- in what agency and other sources say is likely a prelude to further decisions facing regulators on how to oversee geologic storage of the gas to combat global warming.

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EPA AIR STANDARDS OFFICE EYES NEW FOCUS AS PART OF MAJOR OVERHAUL

EPA's air standards office will soon complete a major reorganization that will include a new focus on reducing emissions of both air toxics and criteria pollutants, an expansion into voluntary, sector-based programs and renewed attention on controlling climate change, according to agency officials and sources briefed on the effort.

In addition, EPA sources say a separate effort is underway within the agency's climate change division in EPA's Office of Atmospheric Programs to consolidate a number of existing functions related to climate change and economic analysis.

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EPA DIESEL PLAN FACES FY07 BUDGET LIMITS AFTER DEAL ON STATE AIR GRANTS

Supporters of a new EPA program intended to encourage diesel engine retrofits have agreed to drop their push for a $150 million increase over the Bush administration's requested levels after state and local regulators raised objections that full funding for the diesel plan could prevent lawmakers from restoring funds for state clean air grants, sources involved with the discussions say.

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INDUSTRY DIVISIONS COMPLICATE SENATE PUSH FOR FEDERAL CLIMATE PLAN

A barrage of comments sent to the Senate on the design of possible climate change legislation underscores significant divisions within the utility industry and other sectors on how to proceed in developing a regulatory system to control greenhouse gases.

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BIPARTISAN CONFIRMATION OF ARB CHAIR SAWYER ENDS TUMULTUOUS STRETCH

Air board chair Robert Sawyer this week received bipartisan support from lawmakers and backing from industry representatives in his unanimous confirmation by the Senate Rules Committee. Sawyer's approval settles somewhat of a tumultuous stretch for the air board's leadership, after the governor's previous choice of an industry lobbyist for the chairmanship was rejected by the Senate last summer.

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ARB BEGINS STRUGGLE TO COUNT STATEWIDE FACILITY GHG EMISSIONS

Air board staff is in the nascent stages of attempting to collect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data from industrial facilities statewide, asking air districts this week to seek the information from thousands of businesses despite acknowledging a lack of regulatory authority to do so. A key purpose of the effort is to establish GHG emission baselines and eventually to measure progress against the governor's GHG-reduction goals set last June.

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OFFICIALS URGE GOVERNOR TO LAUNCH BIOENERGY REGULATORY INITIATIVE

Energy consultants hired by the state are urging the governor to sign an executive order establishing statewide goals for biomass-based energy production, including a transportation renewable fuels standard and a mandate for minimum state purchases of "biopower." Some of the recommendations are raising concerns among clean-energy groups and environmentalists, who fear that increasing the use of some biofuels -- such as ethanol -- may worsen air pollution if not tightly regulated.

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SPEAKER TAKES LEAD OVER LANDMARK CLIMATE BILL; BACKING SEEN VITAL

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) is taking the lead over evolving landmark legislation targeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in a move that is considered crucial for the bill to pass the lower house and potentially go to the governor. Details of the legislation remain unclear; it is expected to require a variety of industrial facilities to begin reporting their GHG emissions to the state, but there is some doubt about whether an emissions cap will be proposed. There is also the potential the legislation will include a carbon-based fee on facilities.

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