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Daily News

February 20, 2001

Industry sources are pressing the White House to issue a draft rule making technical amendments to EPA's emission controls for hazardous waste incinerators, fearing that the revised standard could be snagged by a Bush administration suspension of all regulations approved during the final days of the Clinton presidency. Industry lobbyists say they support the regulatory changes, which were negotiated with the Clinton administration, and want the rule the issued as soon as possible so that facilities have time to prepare for the new emissions controls that take effect in two years.

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The House Nuclear Energy Caucus is urging Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitchell Daniels and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to resist cutting the department's environmental management funds to ensure that it meets legally binding cleanup schedules and avoids litigation for failing to do so. The caucus is responding to reports that President Bush plans to cut the Department of Energy's budget as part of an across-the-board reduction to pay for the administration's proposed tax cut. In a Feb.

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Industry officials are pressing the Bush administration to withdraw a last-minute decision by the Clinton EPA to designate an ubiquitous cyanide compound as hazardous. The designation will subject a host of industrial sectors, including aluminum, cosmetics and pharmaceutical manufacturers, to new environmental reporting and cleanup requirements.

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An unprecedented report by an international panel of scientists predicts catastrophic weather shifts and flooding throughout the world as a result of global warming. The findings are likely to put pressure on international negotiators later this summer to take quick action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Consumer activists argue that President Bush's response to California's energy crisis has been influenced by major energy companies that have contributed to his campaign. The activists claim that Bush received large contributions from power companies that have a vested interest in opposing price controls on electricity and advocating eased environmental requirements for power plants. In a Feb.

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February 16, 2001


In an apparent challenge to the Bush administration's efforts to develop a national energy strategy that relies heavily on boosting fossil fuel supplies, a key House Republican is advocating alternative fuels and energy efficiency as a centerpiece to meeting the nation's rising energy demands. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), chairman of the House Science Committee subcommittee on energy and environment, also says he will try to institute tax credits for research into energy-efficient technologies.

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A high-ranking EPA official has entered the fray over arsenic cleanup standards at a former military installation demonstrating the agency's commitment to oversee and review cleanup efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers, according to sources following the dispute. Acting EPA Region III Administrator Thomas Voltaggio testified before a local group charged with overseeing the cleanup of a former military testing site in a northwest residential neighborhood in the District of Columbia.

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The following is an excerpt of a Feb. 15 floor statement by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) outlining his anticipated energy bill. The bill is being drafted in coordination with the Bush White House in response to the nation's energy crisis. In his floor remarks, Murkowski defends key controversial elements of his proposal, including oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and increased consideration of nuclear power.

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Environmentalists are deciding how to weigh in on a legal dispute over an EPA rule to ratchet down sulfur in diesel fuel. The rule is being challenged in court by petroleum refiners, and environmentalists are considering whether to back the rule or ask the court to force EPA to tighten some requirements.

What the environmentalists decide could have major implications in the case. If the activists choose to seek changes to the rule, that could put EPA and the court in an awkward spot by pulling the agency in opposite directions over the rule.

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A proposal by European leaders to overhaul environmental and safety regulations on thousands of chemicals has U.S. chemical makers reeling and environmentalists claiming the move is a sign of things to come. The proposal would dramatically alter the chemical approval process by increasing demands on the chemical industry.

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In response to California's energy crisis, the top air official in Los Angeles has issued two emergency orders that implement changes to emission limits on power plants that local regulators have been considering but have not yet approved. The orders suspend air quality rules on certain power facilities allowing them to continue operating if they pay the local government for the right to exceed emission limits.

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EPA has delayed the effective date of a controversial Clinton rule that would expand the number of facilities required to report lead releases under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), opening up the possibility that the agency could revise or even drop the standard. The regulation has come under attack from industry groups and some lawmakers, including Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO), who say that the rule would be expensive for small businesses.

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February 15, 2001

The Bush administration has delayed the effective date of a controversial Clinton regulation that critics say is an attempt to circumvent a Supreme Court decision that limited federal authority to regulate wetlands. The delay is part of a broader regulatory review by the administration and indicates possible changes to the rule, which is intended to extend the federal controls on discharges to wetlands.

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Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) has agreed to move to the Senate floor a bipartisan bill that would provide $150 million in funding to clean up brownfields, according to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Bob Smith (R-NH). Smith said an agreement between Lott and another key member of the Senate during the last Congress to block any brownfields legislation outside of a broader Superfund reform package is over.

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A legal challenge by environmentalists to an EPA move allowing the District of Columbia more time to comply with national air quality standards is the latest development in what sources say is an emerging national debate on reducing smog throughout a number of cities. The DC litigation mirrors a recent lawsuit filed by environmentalists in Atlanta seeking to upgrade the city's ozone nonattainment from "serious" to "severe" after Atlanta received a multi-year deadline extension from EPA to meet federal air emission levels.

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New Hampshire lawmakers concede that revisions to precedent-setting legislation to reduce power plant emissions will have to be considered in response to environmentalists' concerns about the local air quality impact of emissions trading. The bill has attracted national attention as the first in the country to propose multi-pollutant controls on power generators. Similar measures are also being considered in Congress.

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February 14, 2001

California's power crisis has sparked renewed debate over environmental permitting rules that sources say will likely have national implications. While most experts agree that the crisis will likely not lead to a wholesale weakening of environmental regulations, the situation could still create a precedent for speeding permitting procedures around the country and offer environmental flexibility in the short term, contingent on the promise by power companies and other industries of future emission cuts.

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Several senior senators, including Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), have said airport expansions and their impact on environment quality will be a priority for lawmakers this year. The issue has also attracted the attention of the Bush White House which is looking at ways to alleviate airline traffic congestion, including possible runway expansions.

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Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, has suggested rolling back Clean Air Act requirements that local transportation planning officials demonstrate that proposed projects will not undercut smog-reduction efforts. Sources say that the issue is expected to be one of several top priorities for the 107th Congress on possible air act changes and possible revisions to a host of environmental regulations.

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