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Weekly Update Volume 40, Issue 26

09/20/2010

LITIGATION 

AIR POLLUTION, PREEMPTION, INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION TERMINATION ACT:

The Ninth Circuit held that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA) preempts three local government agency rules aimed at limiting air pollution from idling trains. The rules have not become a part of California's EPA-approved SIP and, thus, do not have the force and effect of federal law. Rather, they have the force and effect of state law. The ICCTA, therefore, preempts the rules unless they are rules of general applicability that do not unreasonably burden railroad activity. Here, the rules fail to meet that test. The rules apply exclusively and directly to railroad activity, requiring the railroads to reduce emissions and to provide, under threat of penalties, specific reports on its emissions and inventory. Because the ICCTA preempts all state laws that may reasonably be said to have the effect of managing or governing rail transportation, the ICCTA preempts the rules in this case. Association of American Railroads v. South Coast Air Quality Management, No. 07-55804, 40 ELR 20246 (9th Cir. Sept. 15, 2010).

CERCLA, SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT, RELEASE PROVISIONS:

The Ninth Circuit held that a 2001 settlement agreement between a city and a company for cleanup costs incurred at a former pesticide manufacturing plant does not establish a contribution bar against all of the claims asserted against the company in a 2006 action for cleanup costs incurred at a neighboring parcel of property. The city filed suit against the company and other defendants who own or recently owned the neighboring site. These "other" defendants filed cross-claims for contribution against the company. The 2001 agreement contains a release provision that bars the city's claims for cleanup costs, but only to the extent they arose from or were related to contaminants that "emanated from" the site at issue in the 2001 agreement. But it does not bar cross-claims for contribution brought by the current and recent owners of the neighboring site. The contribution bars set forth in CERCLA and California Code of Civil Procedure §§877 and 877.6 protect only against claims by non-parties who received notice of the settlement and had an opportunity to object before the settlement took effect. There is no dispute that the former and current owners of the adjacent property had no notice of the earlier litigation or the 2001 settlement.City of Emeryville v. Robinson, No. 09-15018, 40 ELR 20247 (9th Cir. Sept. 15, 2010).

NEPA, NATIONAL FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN:

The Ninth Circuit held that a Forest Service project in the Gallatin National Forest to promote habitat diversity and to reduce the risks of severe wildfire, insect infestation, and disease complies with NEPA but not the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The Service's risk reduction calculations are supported by studies conducted in other regions as well as by extensive modeling. In addition, the EA adequately considered the project's impact on global warming in proportion to its significance, and it sufficiently explained that its mitigation measures would minimize, and compensate for, any soil disturbance from the project. In addition, the Service's conclusion that the project would comply with the Gallatin National Forest Plan's monitoring requirements and would not threaten Yellowstone cutthroat trout was neither arbitrary nor capricious under the NFMA. Nevertheless, the project violates the NFMA because the Service failed to comply with the Forest Plan's elk-cover requirement. The Service must remedy this error on remand. Hapner v. Tidwell, No. 09-35896, 40 ELR 20248 (9th Cir. Sept. 15, 2010).

NEPA, ESA, SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION:

The Eleventh Circuit upheld a lower court decision dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction two lawsuits filed by a Native American tribe challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plans to replace a mile of the ground-level Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) with a bridge to increase the flow of water into Everglades National Park. The tribe argued that the project violated NEPA and the ESA. But Congress inserted language in an Everglades restoration spending bill that exempts the bridge from NEPA and the ESA. Although neither statute is explicitly mentioned, the plain language of the bill makes it clear that Congress intended to relax its existing environmental statutes in order to get the bridge built as quickly as possible. The court, therefore, lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Nos. 09-14194, -14539, 40 ELR 20249 (11th Cir. Sept. 15, 2010).

TOXIC TORTS, CAUSATION:

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing individuals' Price Anderson Act lawsuit against a mining company for injuries allegedly caused by their exposure to radiation from the company's uranium mill in New Mexico. The district court correctly granted summary judgment to the mining company based on the individuals' failure to make a sufficient showing of but-for causation. Under New Mexico law, plaintiffs in toxic tort cases must show that they would not have been harmed "but for" exposure to the defendants' emissions. Here, expert opinions concluding the defendants' operations were merely a significant factor contributing to the individuals' injuries were insufficient as a matter of law to meet this standard. Wilcox v. Homestake Mining Co., No. 08-2282, 40 ELR 20250 (10th Cir. Sept. 8, 2010) (Defense counsel included Daniel J. Dunn of Hogan Lovells in Denver, Colo.).

WETLANDS, JURISDICTION:

A district court adopted a magistrate judge's report and recommendation concluding that the government can establish CWA jurisdiction under either the plurality test or concurrence test set forth in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715, 36 ELR 20116 (2006). The Third Circuit has yet to rule on the issue, but a survey of other Circuit Courts reveals that the concurrence test has been the common factor in most analyses, and that the First, Sixth, and Eighth Circuits have held that jurisdiction is proper under either the plurality or concurrence tests. Here, the disputed wetlands are subject to CWA jurisdiction under both tests. The evidence shows that streams on defendant's property are "relatively permanent" and that there is a continuous surface connection between the wetlands and the streams. The wetlands at issue also have a significant nexus with navigable waters. Accordingly, the court adopted the magistrate judge's conclusion that the wetlands at issue are "waters of the United States" and are within the jurisdiction of the CWA. United States v. Donovan, No. 96-484-LPS, 40 ELR 20251 (D. Del. Sept. 10, 2010) (Stark, J.).

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

THE FEDERAL AGENCIES

Note: Citations below are to the Federal Register (FR).

AIR:

  • EPA amended the general provisions of the stationary source audit program to allow accredited providers to supply stationary source audit samples and to require sources to obtain and use these samples from the accredited providers instead of from EPA, as is the current practice. 75 FR 55636 (9/13/10).
  • EPA granted in part and denied in part a petition seeking EPA's objection to a Title V operating permit issued to the Alliant Energy—Wisconsin Power and Light Edgewater Generating Station. 75 FR 55791 (9/14/10).
  • SIP Approvals: California (definition of volatile organic compound) 75 FR 56889 (9/17/10). Kentucky (incorporation of nitrogen oxide (NOx) as a precursor to ozone) 75 FR 55988(9/15/10). Texas (PSD requirements) 75 FR 55978 (9/15/10); (disapproval of revisions to major and minor new source review plan) 75 FR 56424 (9/15/10).
  • SIP Proposals: California (definition of volatile organic compound; see above for direct final rule) 75 FR 56942 (9/17/10). Colorado (interstate transport of pollution) 75 FR 56935(9/17/10). Idaho (interstate transport of pollution) 75 FR 55494 (9/13/10). Indiana (attainment of the 1997 annual average NAAQS for the Indiana and Kentucky fine particulate matter (PM) nonattainment area) 75 FR 55725 (9/14/10). Montana (attainment of the 1997 fine PM NAAQS for the Libby nonattainment area and PM revisions for Lincoln County) 75 FR 55713 (9/14/10). North Dakota (interstate transport of pollution) 75 FR 56928 (9/17/10). Oklahoma (interstate transport of pollution, PSD and nonattainment new source review requirements, and incorporation of NOx as an ozone precursor) 75 FR 56923 (9/17/10). Texas (PSD requirements; see above for direct final rule) 75 FR 56027 (9/15/10).

GENERAL:

  • EPA requested input from individual stakeholders on the Agency's role in the "green" or sustainable products movement. 75 FR 56528 (9/16/10).

TOXIC SUBSTANCES:

  • EPA revised the procedures for developing enforceable consent agreements to generate test data under TSCA. 75 FR 56472 (9/16/10).

WILDLIFE:

  • FWS announced a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Sprague's pipit as endangered or threatened and to designate critical habitat under the ESA; the Agency found that listing is warranted but precluded by higher priority actions. 75 FR 56028 (9/15/10).
  • FWS announced a 90-day finding on petitions to remove the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife under the ESA; the Agency found that removal from the list may be warranted and initiated a status review. 75 FR 55730 (9/14/10).

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

THE CONGRESS

Note: Citations below are to the Congressional Record (Cong. Rec.).

Public Laws:

  • H.R. 511 (federal land), which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to terminate certain easements held by the Secretary on land owned by the Village of Caseyville, Illinois, and to terminate associated contractual arrangements with the Village, was signed into law on August 16, 2010. Pub. L. No. 111-231, 156 Cong. Rec. D933 (daily ed. Sept. 13, 2010).

Committee Action:

  • S. 2739 (water pollution) was reported by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. S. Rep. No. 111-292, 156 Cong. Rec. S7174 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to provide for the establishment of the Puget Sound Program Office.
  • S. 3073 (water pollution) was reported by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. S. Rep. No.111-283, 156 Cong. Rec. S7033 (daily ed. Sept. 13, 2010). The bill would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
  • S. 3539 (water pollution) was reported by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. S. Rep. No.111-284, 156 Cong. Rec. S7033 (daily ed. Sept. 13, 2010). The bill would to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to establish a grant program to assist in the restoration of San Francisco Bay.
  • H.R. 3785 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-597, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of the suitability and feasibility of expanding the boundary of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
  • H.R. 3914 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-600, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would designate certain lands in San Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan Counties, Colorado, as wilderness.
  • H.R. 4715 (estuaries) was reported by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. S. Rep. No. 111-293, 156 Cong. Rec. S7174 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reauthorize the National Estuary Program.
  • H.R. 4823 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-599, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would establish the Sedona-Red Rock National Scenic Area in the Coconino National Forest, Arizona.
  • H.R. 5110 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-598, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would modify the boundary of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
  • H.R. 5131 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-596, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would establish Coltsville National Historical Park in the state of Connecticut.
  • H.R. 5194 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-595, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would designate Mt. Andrea Lawrence.
  • H.R. 5388 (federal land) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-601, 156 Cong. Rec. H6802-03 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill would expand the boundary of the Cibola National Forest in the state of New Mexico.

Bills Introduced:

  • S. 3778 (Isakson, R-Ga.) (federal land) would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to lease certain lands within Fort Pulaski National Monument. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 3781 (Hagan, D-N.C.) (federal land) would require the Secretary of the Interior to convey the McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery to the state of North Carolina. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  • S. 3788 (Wyden, D-Or.) (geothermal tax credit) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to temporarily increase the investment tax credit for geothermal energy property. 156 Cong. Rec. S7134 (daily ed. Sept. 15, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.
  • S. 3792 (Vitter, R-La.) (oil spill) would provide for restoration of the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 156 Cong. Rec. S7134 (daily ed. Sept. 15, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
  • H.R. 6111 (Van Hollen, D-Md.) (federal land) would amend the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Development Act to extend to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.
  • H.R. 6113 (Rogers, R-Ky.) (coal) would prohibit the use of funds for carrying out certain policies and procedures that adversely affect domestic coal mining operations. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce, and Natural Resources.
  • H.R. 6114 (Christensen, D-V.I.) (federal land) would authorize the acquisition of land for the Virgin Islands National Park. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.
  • H.R. 6115 (Kissell, D-N.C.) (federal land) would require the Secretary of the Interior to convey the McKinney Lake National Fish Hatchery to the state of North Carolina. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.
  • H.R. 6117 (McDermott, D-Wash.) (renewable energy) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the limitation on the issuance of new clean renewable energy bonds and to terminate eligibility of governmental bodies to issue such bonds. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
  • H.R. 6119 (Pallone, D-N.J.) (oil spill) would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to ensure the safe and proper use of dispersants in the event of an oil spill or release of hazardous substances. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
  • H.R. 6121 (Sestak, D-Pa.) (tax credit) would amend the Internal Revenue Code to extend the production tax credit and investment tax credit, increase the investment tax credit with respect to equipment used to generate electricity by geothermal power, and extend specified energy property grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
  • H.R. 6124 (Wu, D-Or.) (natural gas) would amend certain provisions of the Natural Gas Act relating to exportation or importation of natural gas. 156 Cong. Rec. S7089 (daily ed. Sept. 14, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
  • H.R. 6135 (Connolly, D-Va.) (renewable energy) would extend contract periods for renewable energy for federal agencies. 156 Cong. Rec. H6763 (daily ed. Sept. 15, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
  • H.R. 6136 (Connolly, D-Va.) (ozone pollution) would reduce the heat island effect and associated ground-level ozone pollution from federal facilities. 156 Cong. Rec. H6763 (daily ed. Sept. 15, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
  • H.R. 6142 (Tonko, D-N.Y.) (alternative energy) would direct the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of Education to jointly develop a workforce training and education program to prepare workers for careers in the alternative energy and energy efficiency industries. 156 Cong. Rec. H6763 (daily ed. Sept. 15, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.
  • H.R. 6144 (Barton, R-Tex.) (energy efficiency) would repeal certain amendments to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act with respect to lighting energy efficiency. 156 Cong. Rec. H6803 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • H.R. 6155 (Grijalva, D-Ariz.) (federal land) A bill to expand the Pajarita Wilderness and designate the Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness in Coronado National Forest, Arizona. 156 Cong. Rec. H6803 (daily ed. Sept. 16, 2010). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

IN THE STATES

Note: The entries below cover state developments since the last issue of Update. The entries are arranged by state, and within each section, entries are further subdivided by subject matter area. To access material previously reported in 2010, visit our list of Cumulative State Developments. For state material reported prior to 2010, visit the ELR Archives.

The states below have updates this week:

ColoradoNevadaUtahIndianaNew MexicoWashingtonKentuckyNew YorkWisconsinMaineOhio MarylandOklahoma 

COLORADO

Air:

Water:

INDIANA

Air:

  • The Air Pollution Control Board seeks public comment on proposed amendments to 326 Ind. Admin. Code 2-1.1 and 326 Ind. Admin. Code 2-9a, concerning source specific operating agreements for crushed stone processing plants. Among other changes, the altered regulations would expand the list of materials that may be crushed at sources to include concrete and reclaimed asphalt pavement. The comment period ends October 15, 2010. See http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20100915-IR-326100571FNA.xml.pdf.
  • The Department of Health proposed to add 410 Ind. Admin. Code 33 to establish an indoor air quality (IAQ) inspection, evaluation, and parent and employee notification program to assist schools and state agencies in improving indoor air quality and establish best practices and necessary minimum standards for IAQ in schools and state agencies, regulate items that affect the IAQ, specify when the department will inspect for IAQ, and establish requirements for parent or employee, or both, notification of IAQ evaluation findings. There will be a public hearing on October 12, 2010. See http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20100915-IR-410090682PRA.xml.pdf.

Solid & Hazardous Waste:

  • The Department of Health added 410 Ind. Admin. Code 6-8.2 to establish minimum requirements pertaining to the disposition of sewage matter through the design, construction, installation, maintenance, and operation of residential on-site sewage systems. The rule takes effect January 1, 2011. See http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20100915-IR-410090007FRA.xml.pdf.

KENTUCKY

Water:

MAINE

Toxic Substances:

  • The Department of Environmental Protection proposed amendments to Ch. 883, designating the chemical class nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates as a priority chemical and requiring manufacturers of household and commercial cleaning products, cosmetics and personal care products, and home maintenance products sold, marketed, or intended for use by consumers that contain intentionally added nonylphenol to report on chemical usage. The public hearing is October 7, 2010, and the last day for comments is October 18. Seehttp://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/notices/2010/091510.html.

MARYLAND

Air:

  • The Department of the Environment amended Md. Code Regs 26.11.01 and 26.11.09. Changes remove the word "furnace" from the definition of "fuel burning equipment" and require load shaving units to install meters to record total operating time. Rules take effect September 20, 2010. See http://www.dsd.state.md.us/mdregister/3719.pdf (p. 1285).

NEVADA

Energy:

NEW MEXICO

Energy:

  • The Department of Environmental Protection amended N.M. Code R. §3.3.32, relating to the application and certification procedures for administration of the tax credit for geothermal ground-coupled heat pumps. The rule took effect on September 15, 2010. See http://www.nmcpr.state.nm.us/nmregister/xxi/xxi17/3.3.32new.htm.

Water:

NEW YORK

Air:

OHIO

Solid & Hazardous Waste

OKLAHOMA

Air:

  • The Department of Environmental Quality proposed to amend Okla. Admin. Code §252.100 to modify sections affected by U.S. EPA's new programs and policies for greenhouse gas emissions. There will be a public hearing on October 28, 2010, which is the last day to submit comments. See http://www.oar.state.ok.us/register/Volume-28_Issue-01.htm#a17431.

UTAH

Air:

  • The Department of Environmental Quality proposed to amend Utah Admin. Code r. 307-401-9. The rule would exempt sources from the requirement to obtain an Approval Order if their greenhouse gas emissions are below the thresholds established by U.S. EPA. There will be a public hearing on October 7, 2010, and the last day to submit comments is October 15. Seehttp://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/bull_pdf/2010/b20100915.pdf (pp. 13-15).
  • The Department of Environmental Quality proposed to amend Utah Admin. Code r. 307-405-3. The rule would change the definition of "subject to regulation," in the context of new greenhouse gas rules. There will be a public hearing on October 7, 2010, and the last day to submit comments is October 15. Seehttp://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/bull_pdf/2010/b20100915.pdf (pp. 15-17).

WASHINGTON

Air:

  • The Department of Ecology proposed to adopt a mandatory reporting rule for facilities emitting at least 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year, and for suppliers of fuel responsible for emitting the same amount. There will be a public hearing on October 6, 2010, and the last day to submit written comments is October 14. The intended date of adoption is December 1, 2010. See http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/laws/wsr/2010/18/10-18-047.htm.

General:

  • In order to comply with 2010 Washington laws, the Pollution Control Hearings Board will now absorb the authority and functions of both the Hydraulics Appeals Board and the Forest Practices Appeals Board. The laws also eliminate the Environmental and Land Use Hearings Board. The rules become effective September 23, 2010. Seehttp://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/laws/wsr/2010/18/10-18-021.htm.

Land Use:

  • The Forest Practices Board proposed to amend 222 Wash. Admin Code to incorporate provisions of 2010 natural resources reform pertaining to appeals of forest practices decisions, as well as provisions of 2007 legislation pertaining to the notice of conversion to a nonforestry use. Comments must be received by November 1, 2010. Seehttp://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/laws/wsr/2010/18/10-18-077.htm.

WISCONSIN

Wildlife:

  • The Department of Natural Resources proposed to amend Wis. Admin. Code NR 27 to list cave bats as a threatened species. The proposed rule responds to the spread of white-nose syndrome in the state. It also proposed to amend NR 40.04 to include the white-nose syndrome-causing fungus geomyces destructans as a prohibited invasive species. Seehttp://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/code/register/reg657a.pdf (pp. 19-20).

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

INTERNATIONAL

CHINA LOST THREE PERCENT OF GDP TO POLLUTION

According to the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, part of the Ministry for Environmental Protection, China's costs in 2004 for pollution, including health-related productivity losses and crop degradation, totaled over three percent of GDP. China must now face the task of cleaning up 30 years of collected industrial waste, which currently plagues the country in the form of foul air and dirty black water, or risk losing more than the cost of the cleanup every year in losses to the economy. With over a quarter of the nation's surface water undrinkable and air quality still in decline, environmental issues are now the leading source of social unrest in China, according to the director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. On average, there is one environmental accident every two days, according to the environmental protection minister. Li Pingri, a former researcher at the Guangzhou Institute of Geography, said, "If we can’t breathe clean air or drink clean water, high economic growth is meaningless." To combat pollution, the AFP reported last Wednesday, China will now require firms in 16 industries to publish annual environmental impact reports and to disclose all environmental accidents within one day. Earlier this year, a gold producer waited a week to report toxic contamination from a mine. For the full story on China's environmental cleanup costs, seehttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-16/china-set-to-lose-2-of-gdp-fighting-pollution-as-doing-nothing-costs-more.html. For the AFP story on China's new regulations, seehttp://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gwUesikTpC3VWePJGvrgsH6SNKHQ.

RENEWABLES PUSH IN EUROPE DRIVES UP ELECTRICITY PRICES

As European Union member states drive to meet lower carbon dioxide goals, a rapid shift from coal electricity has caused a jump in prices--and a five-year old law in the Czech Republic may exacerbate the spike for local industry. The price of electricity for Czech industrialists may rise as much as 25 percent in response to a surge in solar power, as power companies are guaranteed the right to charge inflated prices to allay startup costs of installing new panels. The cost of photovoltaic panels has dropped by 50 percent since the enactment of the law, and the number of solar power producers is now much higher than predicted by the Czech government. The nation will soon be the world's largest producer of solar power per capita. In Spain, the Prime Minister guaranteed as much as 10 times the wholesale price for solar power, and in Germany, solar installation well beyond predictions brought a strong resistance to any cuts in subsidies. Meanwhile, Finland is set to enact a new set of feed-in tariff subsidies for wind power and biogas. Producers will receive a set, guaranteed price starting January 1st, which will last for the next 12 years. For the story on Czech solar power, see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-17/czech-solar-power-guarantees-threatens-surge-in-industrial-power-prices.html. For the story on Finnish tariffs, see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-16/finland-to-push-for-renewable-wind-energy-with-feed-in-tariff-subsidies.html.

AUSTRALIAN PM CHANGES STANCE ON CARBON TAX

Prime Minister Julia Gillard backtracked on a popular campaign promise not to implement a carbon tax in Australia. Gillard said that the change in her stance is in response to parliamentary elections that placed the Labor party in the minority, and that she was now concerned with building a consensus around how to deal with climate change. Opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said that Gillard's actions were "a clear breach of transparency," bringing up a possible tax after ruling it out during her campaign. Opposition leader Tony Abbott said that he would not support a tax outside of an international agreement. Gillard promised during her campaign to cut 2000 level greenhouse gas emissions by five percent by 2020, but an election upset that left the Greens to wield sole balance of power in the upper house Senate from mid-2011 has caused the Labor party to strike a deal and revise its climate policy. For the full story, see http://www.theage.com.au/national/get-used-to-changes-warns-gillard-20100917-15gdq.html For the deal between the Labor party and the Greens, see http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE68G2HJ20100917.

Copyright© 2010, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

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