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Geoscience Policy Monthly Review: September 2013

The Monthly Review is part of a continuing effort to improve communications about the role of geoscience in policy. Current and archived monthly reviews are available online.

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  • Ninth Circuit upholds California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and ruled against a lower court ruling that the LCFS violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The LCFS requires the oil industry to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by at least 10% by 2020. Using a life cycle analysis, the LCFS caps the average carbon intensity of transportation fuels in California’s market. Fuel producers must meet the specified annual carbon intensity in their fuels or use credits to comply if they cannot reach the standard.

The state was granted a stay, which allows for the continuation of LCFS. The next step may be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court if they grant a petition to consider the constitutionality of California’s fuel standard. The appellate court case is Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Richard W. Corey, No. 12-15131.

Sources: California Environmental Protection Agency, United States Courts

  • CRS Report on Laws & Regulations on Exporting Fossil Fuels

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a report that examines federal laws and regulations pertaining to the export of natural gas, crude oil, and coal. This report provides an overview of federal laws and regulations and agency roles in authorizing and regulating the export of these fossil fuels. Any party wishing to export fossil fuels must comply, as appropriate, with the Natural Gas Act, a general ban on crude oil exports, and other various laws and regulations applicable to the construction and operation of exporting fossil fuels.

Sources: Congressional Research Service Report, U.S. Energy Information Administration

  • DOI holds offshore wind lease sale

On September 4, 2013, the Department of the Interior held its second competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters. The sale consisted of 112,799 acres of Virginia’s Outer Continental Shelf, and brought in more than $1.6 billion in revenue. The first lease sale took place in July, and auctioned 164,750 acres of land off the coast of Rhode Island. That sale was won by Deepwater Wind New England, LLC, which had the high bid of $3.8 million.

The increase in sales is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which he released earlier this summer, an all-of-the-above energy strategy to diversify America’s energy resources. 

To view a map of the Virginia Wind Energy Area, which is to the east of Virginia Beach, please visit here.

Sources: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Department of the Interior, the White House

  • Vote on energy legislation delayed

In an attempt to focus on passing a budget for fiscal year 2014, Congress has decided to table an already delayed Senate vote on the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392) that was scheduled to take place the last week in September. The bill, originally introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in March and then revised and reintroduced in July, proposes the most significant energy legislation since the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-140). The bill focuses on measures to encourage and support energy efficiency and conservation, particularly in buildings and industrial processes. Both senators expect the vote to resume after the budget crisis. The current fiscal year ends on September 30, 2013.

Sources: Energy & Environment Daily, the Government Printing Office, the Library of Congress





Monthly Review prepared by: Maeve Boland, Geoscience Policy Director; Abby Seadler, Geoscience Policy Associate; andSophia Ford, AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.



Compiled October 1, 2013


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