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Daily News

March 01, 2002

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has released a hold on the Bush administration's nominee to head EPA's Office of Research & Development (ORD) after the agency announced that it would extend the comment period on a key perchlorate risk study by 45-days. EPA says in a Feb. 28 Federal Register notice that the extension was granted in response to several requests and sources say the vote on the nominee is now slated for March 6.

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The Bush administration's opposition to an increase in federal water infrastructure spending and a bipartisan congressional agreement that states and municipalities must become more self sufficient have raised alarm bells among water treatment officials that federal financial involvement in the costly program may soon end.

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Activists are urging regulators to place a greater emphasis on cumulative exposure risks rather than the health hazards of individual chemicals, as part of a series of policy recommendations in a new study on children's health. The author of the study says the findings show that new laws are needed to reexamine the risks from chemical exposures, along the lines of a landmark statute that forced the federal government to reassess the risks from thousands of commonly used pesticides.

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California Gov. Gray Davis (D) is urging that state's two U.S. senators to persuade Majority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-SD) to exempt California for three years from an ethanol mandate contained in a Democratic energy bill, based on fears that the mandate will cause fuel shortages and skyrocketing gasoline prices. California has been leading the charge by a number of states to be excused from certain federal clean-fuel requirements. In a Feb. 26 letter to California Sens.

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February 28, 2002

Pending legislation reforming the nation's campaign finance laws could prove to be a major economic boon for environmentalists, providing them with a potentially huge new pool of money to fund political and issue-oriented campaigns and media blitzes, environmentalists and political observers say.

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A forthcoming EPA plan aimed at encouraging liable parties to purchase insurance policies to cover potential cleanup cost overruns and unforeseen problems in Superfund site cleanups is drawing significant opposition from potentially liable parties, who charge that the insurance policies are either prohibitively expensive or provide insufficient coverage.

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A forthcoming EPA plan aimed at encouraging liable parties to purchase insurance policies to cover potential cleanup cost overruns and unforeseen problems in Superfund site cleanups is drawing significant opposition from potentially liable parties, who charge that the insurance policies are either prohibitively expensive or provide insufficient coverage.

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A forthcoming EPA plan aimed at encouraging liable parties to purchase insurance policies to cover potential cleanup cost overruns and unforeseen problems in Superfund site cleanups is drawing significant opposition from potentially liable parties, who charge that the insurance policies are either prohibitively expensive or provide insufficient coverage.

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Environmentalists are considering filing a lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft for failing to meet congressionally-mandated deadlines on assessing the vulnerability of chemical plants to terrorist strikes, a requirement that was established long before the Sept. 11 attacks. Justice Department officials have claimed that release of the assessments has been slowed due to a lack of funds.

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A proposal by an EPA advisory panel to reduce the overall number of particulate matter monitors as the agency changes from a filter-based monitoring system to continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) is dividing once-unified environmentalists and Northeast state officials.

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A senior Democrat in the House appears to be laying the groundwork to push for provisions during a Senate-House conference committee on bioterrorism legislation to reduce the use of chlorine at water treatment plants and dramatically expand EPA's authority to assess the vulnerability of these facilities. In a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Rep.

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A senior Democrat in the House appears to be laying the groundwork to push for provisions during a Senate-House conference committee on bioterrorism legislation to reduce the use of chlorine at water treatment plants and dramatically expand EPA's authority to assess the vulnerability of these facilities. In a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Rep.

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Outgoing EPA regulatory enforcement chief Eric Schaeffer is accusing the Bush administration of undermining EPA's ability to enforce key Clean Air Act provisions and purposefully working to gut the law's new source review (NSR) program while slashing the federal enforcement work force.

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A federal judge has cautioned against broad use of recent guidelines by Attorney General John Ashcroft on limiting public access to data because of security concerns in a case involving the release of information regarding the operations of Vice President Cheney's energy task force. The judge warned government agencies about relying on the Ashcroft guidelines in reviewing the release of documents sought by public advocates that relate to the task force's development of the president's national energy strategy, which the activists say was unduly influenced by big business.

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A federal judge has cautioned against broad use of recent guidelines by Attorney General John Ashcroft on limiting public access to data because of security concerns in a case involving the release of information regarding the operations of Vice President Cheney's energy task force. The judge warned government agencies about relying on the Ashcroft guidelines in reviewing the release of documents sought by public advocates that relate to the task force's development of the president's national energy strategy, which the activists say was unduly influenced by big business.

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February 27, 2002

EPA officials are suggesting they will likely support a utility industry plan to have a special agency air toxics workgroup consider mercury emissions control technologies for various types of coal-fired power plants, rather than imposing an across-the-board standard, sources say. These sources also say EPA is likely to delay environmentalists' efforts to have the agency consider emissions from utilities other than mercury.

But environmentalists are raising concerns that the Clean Air Act does not allow air toxics standards to be subcategorized based on fuel type.

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Sources say election-year politics are likely to dampen the chances for legislation that would overhaul asbestos liability litigation being pushed by a broad-based industry coalition, which is working hard to separate the issue from broader tort reform efforts. The group is maneuvering to position itself to try to push through asbestos reforms next year, arguing that resistance from some trial lawyers may make it difficult for some Democratic lawmakers to go along with the legislation during an election year. Trial lawyers have traditionally been strong supporters of the Democratic Party.

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EPA and diesel engine makers are pursuing settlement talks that could offer the industry additional flexibility to comply with maximum emission limits for heavy-duty engines, raising concerns from environmentalists that the Bush administration may be poised to substantially weaken both current and upcoming pollution control requirements on the diesel engine industry.

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EPA has initiated eleventh-hour negotiations aimed at forging a consensus with environmentalists and industry, including chemical makers, on a plan requiring states to draft facility-specific air toxic regulations. The move is intended to head off litigation when, as expected, the agency fails to issue federal rules in time to meet an upcoming Clean Air Act deadline.

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A California farmer has asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court's finding that EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have authority to regulate plowing through intermittent wetlands on ranchlands. The case could offer the court a chance to rule definitively on whether federal agencies can regulate "incidental fallback" of dredged material in wetlands.

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