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Daily News

November 14, 2001

EPA is poised to release its much-anticipated guidance on the cumulative risk of pesticides, which experts say will serve as a model for multiple chemical assessments and will likely lead EPA to impose new restrictions on the sale and use of already-approved pesticides.

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Oil refiners in California say a recent decision by EPA to impose new smog-control requirements on the San Joaquin Valley will likely lead the industry to produce cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline that contains oxygenates for the entire state. The move would make California the first state in the country to run on 100 percent reformulated gasoline (RFG) that contains an oxygenate.

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EPA and the departments of Energy and Defense are attempting to address policy shortcomings in the long-term management of closed hazardous waste sites by providing technical support and funding to a private group's efforts to develop a model state law governing land-use restrictions.

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Farmers and pesticide makers have followed through on a threat to challenge in court a legal settlement between environmentalists and EPA establishing timetables for the agency's process for reviewing thousands of pesticides.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Crop Protection Association on Nov. 13 filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9 th Circuit.

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EPA has rejected industry arguments that increased concentrations of ground-level ozone can be beneficial to human health, saying there is no reliable data to suggest the pollutant has any positive side effects. Along with the rejection, EPA reaffirms its support for the 1997 ozone standard, which was the focus of an intense legal battle between industry and the agency.

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Nevada is preparing to go court as part of its long-standing battle with the Department of Energy (DOE) over a proposed recommendation to build a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. State officials argue that the department's recently released criteria for reviewing the suitability of the proposed site are skewed to favor construction of the facility in the state.

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Senate leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee are accusing the Bush administration, and particularly EPA, of failing to cooperate with lawmakers in their efforts to develop legislation that would impose new security requirements on the chemical industry.

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November 13, 2001

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Environmentalists say the Bush administration's recent denial of access to information regarding the relicensing of hydropower dams is an example of an anticipated crackdown on publicly available data in the face of heightened security concerns. The environmentalists are attempting to gain access to information relied upon by the administration in developing a streamlined relicensing proposal that would limit the role of EPA in reviewing environmental consequences of hydropower dams, indicating that the dispute may be resolved in court.

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The railroad industry is contesting a plan by hazardous material shippers that would require the federal government to step in and decide whether to halt shipments because of security concerns. The discussion about a possible role for the government follows a unilateral decision last month by the railroad industry to suspend shipments after the U.S. began air strikes against Afghanistan in response to recent terrorist attacks.

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EPA, the Navy, and a private developer are locked in negotiations over agency demands that the military clean up a California facility contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) before transferring it, the results of which could set a major precedent on the resale of PCB contaminated properties, EPA and industry sources say.

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Senate Republicans reportedly have decided to drop the tax cuts from their version of a House-passed energy package as part of the senators' push to force Democratic leaders to allow a vote this year on energy legislation.

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November 12, 2001

EPA's information office is undertaking a comprehensive review of its public website to determine what data should be pulled in response to security concerns, and the office has already developed criteria for judging potentially sensitive information.

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A recent draft of the Senate energy committee chairman's energy-efficiency legislation reflects some changes from an earlier plan that sources say are intended to garner support from manufacturers, in an apparent attempt to broaden the appeal of Democratic proposals for a national energy policy.

Senate Democrats have been engaged in a high-profile standoff with prominent Republicans who are pushing an energy package that includes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is opposed by environmentalists and the Democratic leadership.

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The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has approved two bills that would direct EPA to spend more than $100 million to fund research and physical improvements to enhance the security of drinking water and wastewater facilities nationwide.

The bills mark the Senate's first attempt to detail spending on drinking water and wastewater security projects from a $20 billion emergency supplemental package that Congress approved following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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Leaders of California's Senate are blasting a controversial move by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to relax certain environmental assurances under the state's fast-track approval process for power plants, saying it compromises air quality, among other concerns. In a Nov. 8 letter, the leader of the Senate and the chairmen of the energy and environmental quality committees say the CEC's move last month to waive two conditions on the fast-track approval process is "legally questionable."

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Public health advocates are threatening to sue the Bush administration arguing that meetings between the pharmaceutical industry and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson on bioterrorism violate public disclosure laws.

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A federal court has overturned a highly publicized Bush administration executive order that prompted strong protests from environmentalists and labor groups by banning the use of union-endorsed work agreements at federal construction projects.

The court ruling represents a major victory for environmentalists and labor groups, with sources saying the legal challenge was an unprecedented show of unity despite lingering tensions between the two groups over other Bush administration initiatives, such as the president's energy strategy.

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November 09, 2001

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California environment regulators have launched a review of the carcinogenicity of 50 chemicals for possible inclusion under the state's consumer labeling law, referred to as Proposition 65. The potential list includes such common substances as nicotine and food additives like aspartame and sodium nitrite.

Sources say a ranking of the chemicals' hazards is expected to be sent to the state's Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) in about a year.

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A top Justice Department (DOJ) official is vowing that the Bush administration will ensure "scrupulous compliance" with the data reporting and other provisions of environmental laws as a way of boosting security at potentially vulnerable chemical, water and hazardous waste facilities.

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