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Daily News

September 04, 2001

EPA budget officials have agreed to provide states with a boost in annual funding to account for inflation when agency officials submit a proposed fiscal year 2003 budget request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) later this month. But EPA officials appear to have rejected a request from states to create a permanent mechanism that would automatically boost annual funds to account for inflation.

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Waste treatment officials and industry lobbyists are working to resolve differences over a congressional plan to force EPA to revise a major hazardous waste regulation on the handling and disposal of toxic substances resulting from the waste treatment process. The groups are sparring over report language in a House-approved EPA spending bill for next fiscal year, which calls on the agency to move quickly on resolving lingering controversy over the regulation.

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EPA Region X officials are about to sign a first-time framework with federal fish and wildlife agencies for coordinating water and waste cleanup efforts to better protect newly listed endangered species. Officials from the three agencies have been at odds for years regarding cleanup levels, but will soon sign a memorandum of agreement creating an interagency process to consider endangered species at Superfund and other waste sites. Sources say the plan could serve as a model for other regions.

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Efforts by a European Union (EU) committee to promote the use renewable fuels for transportation have avoided the political pitfalls of a similar debate in the U.S. because the European move is not clouded by concerns about groundwater contamination from underground tanks.

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EPA Region V officials have discovered potentially serious problems with Ohio's implementation of the Clean Air Act over the last several years and have recommended a series of changes that the state must make to its air program "to prevent any future proceedings that could revoke the state's delegation of those programs," EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman announced.

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August 31, 2001

Industry officials are pressing EPA to quantify pollution reduction credits for products and facilities that qualify for the agency's Energy Star program, arguing that the move would increase participation in the highly touted energy-efficiency program, which is a stated goal of the Bush administration's national energy strategy.

Some industry officials say they would like to use the credits in meeting federal smog-reduction requirement laid out in state implementation plans (SIP).

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HONOLULU -- The Bush administration's promise that states will enjoy a "full partnership" with EPA and other federal agencies is facing skepticism from a host of state officials, whose comments suggest that despite the administration's commitment EPA's relationship with the states is likely to remain contentious.

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A group of major utilities is calling on the White House to provide the industry with billions of dollars in tax breaks and other subsidies to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions, following years of opposition to any emissions curbs on greenhouse gases, industry sources say.

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EPA is proposing to sidestep a controversial move to require controls on agriculture emissions in the approval of dozens of California clean air permitting programs. The controversy affects more than half of the permitting programs required by Title V of the Clean Air Act that EPA is under court order to review by December.

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EPA officials indicate that they are likely to reject two options being proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers for revising its operating procedures for dams on the Missouri River because of concerns about endangered species. The Corps is developing the massive plan in part to provide greater protections to wildlife along and within the river.

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Environmentalists are strongly opposed to legislation being considered in both houses of Congress to expedite the review and approval of airport expansion projections by blocking state objections based on environmental and other concerns. A plan in the Senate that is awaiting floor consideration would eliminate state air and water quality certification of airport construction plans. And a key Republican in the House is planning to introduce legislation in September that may include similar provisions to block state objections.

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EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers may be able to continue regulating some isolated wetlands after a federal appeals court agreed with the Justice Department to adopt a narrow reading of the Supreme Court's recent controversial wetlands ruling limiting federal jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.

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August 30, 2001

HONOLULU -- State environment commissioners say they are extremely skeptical that a draft EPA strategy designed to promote innovation and regulatory flexibility will realize its goals, fearing the plan may promote only limited initiatives in specific areas rather than a broad shift within the entire agency toward a more flexible approach to environmental protection.

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EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher has given agency environmental justice officials the green light to move forward with a controversial agency guidance creating criteria for analyzing and addressing complaints of environmental injustice, EPA sources say.

Office of Environmental Justice Director Barry Hill told Inside EPA that the agency is moving forward with upper management review of the policy, which was floated to stakeholders in February but stalled during the White House's review of Clinton-era policies and rules.

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EPA is poised to reject a call by environmentalists that the agency regulate a widely-used process for extracting natural gas from the ground, despite a four-year-old court decision that agreed with environmentalists that the process should be regulated under the the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

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HONOLULU -- State environment regulators adopted a series of resolutions in support of the Bush administration's controversial review and possible revisions to two Clinton-era regulations, but only after a raucous debate in which some state officials strongly argued against the move.

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Environmentalists are lamenting the departure of Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) as House minority whip in anticipation of his run for the Michigan governorship. The 13-term congressman is expected to announce in September whether he will stay on as whip through the remainder of his term, or step aside, prompting a party election that some expect to happen within weeks.

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A new California energy commission which has identified the promotion of renewable and clean-energy sources as top priorities is planning to defy efforts by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to exercise broad jurisdiction over the power authority, setting up a clear confrontation between federal regulators and the Consumer Power & Conservation Financing Authority (CPCFA), sources say.

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August 29, 2001

Two major U.S. ethanol producers are discussing possible partnerships with fuel makers in China, which has started to produce the gasoline additive and is becoming increasingly interested in its use as a means of reducing the country's air-pollution problems before the 2008 Olympic games are held in Beijing.

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