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Daily News

March 06, 2002

A leading Republican senator is considering launching an investigation into EPA's management of cleanup efforts on Capitol Hill following anthrax attacks last fall. The review would be prompted by the senator's frustration over EPA's response to a request for information about the agency's efforts to decontaminate the Senate Hart Office Building and other buildings in the Capitol complex.

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Chemical industry officials are calling on the Bush administration to quickly seek congressional approval of legislation implementing an international toxics treaty, without controversial provisions on how to add chemicals to the landmark agreement.

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March 05, 2002

Michigan has proposed relaxing a statewide standard on dioxin cleanups that critics say would ease pressure on Dow Chemical Company in a dispute over contamination near its headquarters facility in Midland. Environmentalists are protesting the move, saying that would contradict an upcoming federal scientific review on dioxin risks, which is expected to be released later this year.

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A coalition of industry groups is asking a federal appeals court to overturn an EPA rule that sets strict treatment standards for materials mixed with or derived from hazardous wastes, charging that the rule exceeds the agency's statutory authority because it places regulatory burdens on materials without regard to risks they pose.

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A coalition of industry groups led by chemical makers is asking a federal appeals court to overturn an EPA rule that sets strict treatment standards for materials mixed with or derived from hazardous wastes, charging that the rule exceeds the agency's statutory authority because it places regulatory burdens on materials without regard to the risks they pose.

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The Supreme Court last week rejected an effort by electronic manufacturers to delay implementation of a controversial state mercury-labeling law, clearing the way for Vermont to move forward with key provisions of the law that have been put on hold for the past several years.

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Twelve Democratic senators, including six committee chairmen, appear to be laying the groundwork to fight any proposal the Bush administration may issue to reform EPA's clean air permitting program.

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The refusal by a top State Department official to disclose the brand of a herbicide being sprayed by the U.S. government in Columbia to destroy coca plants used in making cocaine is raising concerns among environmentalists that the government is violating EPA requirements under federal pesticide laws. The controversy stems from a legal challenge by brought by South American farmers that could entangle U.S. chemical makers in possible future liability claims involving the government's use of pesticides in its efforts to combat illegal drugs.

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March 04, 2002

EPA is considering a plan to designate its first-ever public health emergency at a contaminated site, a move that could set a national precedent for the agency's jurisdiction in residential settings, agency sources say.

The agency is expected to decide this month whether to designate the site of a former W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite processing plant in Libby, MT, as a public health emergency in order to give the agency authority to remove asbestos-tainted insulation in homes throughout the area.

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California pesticide regulators are scrambling to adopt emergency regulations to protect stringent methyl bromide rules issued last year following a surprise court ruling that invalidated the current standards. While farming groups are claiming victory, the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) says it will likely be able to maintain the current requirements by issuing emergency measures while working on replacement standards.

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A broad coalition of metal industry groups is urging EPA to delay for one year the implementation of a new rule that requires several thousand businesses to report their annual lead releases. The groups say a one-year extension is warranted because EPA regions have been interpreting the rule requirements differently, and the agency has not provided adequate technical assistance on how to comply with the rule.

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The Army is planning a pilot project to add water to its stockpile of a liquid nerve toxin to dilute its potency and reduce its risk of being targeted by terrorists. The military is hoping that the dilution will meet the standards of an international agreement for the destruction of chemicals weapons, but the process still leaves unanswered questions about the ultimate disposal of the chemical agents.

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Legislation in Maryland to impose unprecedented safety requirements on chemical plants appears to have stalled amid strong opposition by industry officials, who on the national level have challenged a similar proposal by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ). However, one state lawmaker is hoping to pass a narrower measure aiming to improve the security of hazardous chemical storage in rail cars.

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EPA Region IX Administrator Wayne Nastri is proposing to erase an extensive backlog of state implementation plan (SIP) rule approvals by directing selected California air district staffers to review rules proposed by other districts in the state. State air officials say they are intrigued by the proposal but have not decided how actively they will participate.

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Bush administration officials reportedly are pushing a Texas renewable energy standard as an alternative to provisions in a Senate Democratic energy strategy that is expected to be debated later this week. The Texas standard was approved by then-Gov. Bush and could be offered at the federal level to neutralize the highly-contentious and sometimes partisan debate over renewables by allowing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to claim support for the idea.

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March 01, 2002

California environment officials are developing methods as part of the state's counter-terrorism strategy for identifying the highest-risk industrial facilities, and plan to draft non-regulatory site security guidelines that are expected to be enforced by agency officials, a state source says.

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A new report issued this week by the General Accounting Office (GAO) shows that EPA is not accounting for all of the costs associated with implementing a rule that limits radon in drinking water, and suggests that the agency should review its analyses to take into consideration more than $24 million in costs the agency missed.

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An independent federal agency is expected to report that existing federal regulations are woefully inadequate to protect industrial workers from accidental explosions and releases resulting from chemical reactions, which is likely to prompt labor unions and environmentalists to call for tougher controls.

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Congressional Democrats are planning to introduce a series of measures aimed at highlighting the Bush administration's failure to call for reinstating the expired Superfund taxes.

Sen. Robert Torricelli and Rep. Frank Pallone, both New Jersey Democrats, will soon introduce legislation that would reauthorize the Superfund taxes for five years. Torricelli will offer his measure as an amendment to pending energy legislation, a spokeswoman says, while Pallone will offer a freestanding bill later this month, a Pallone aide says.

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California environmental and emergency response officials charged with implementing Gov. Gray Davis's (D) nationally publicized counter-terrorism plan are relying almost exclusively on site security guidelines issued five months ago by the chemical industry for recommendations to secure chemical plants and other high-risk industrial facilities.

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