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Daily News

November 28, 2000

The Department of Energy has revised upward its projections for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants over the next 20 years, responding to an anticipated increase in energy demand. Other industry trends affecting emissions, according to DOE, include a rise in natural gas use, which emits less carbon than coal, and a decline in nuclear energy, which emits no carbon dioxide.

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Environmentalists are opposing an expansion of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), raising allegations of environmental racism in the wake of a recent study that concludes the various proposals under consideration would disproportionately hurt low-income and minority residents near the airport. The arguments may offer ammunition to activists nationwide who are opposing a number of airport projects across the country.

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The head of the independent Pew Center on Climate Change, Eileen Claussen, is calling on the U.S. to increase domestic efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as a way to boost international credibility in working toward a global regime.

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Environmentalists claim that an international agreement on climate change can still be reached despite the collapse of recent talks in The Hague, arguing that there was agreement on a number of key substantive issues, and that a tactical error on the part of U.S. negotiators to continue pushing on credits for carbon sinks ran out the clock before an agreement could be reached.

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Gov. George W. Bush's decision to begin building a presidential Cabinet, despite continued uncertainty over the outcome of the election, has fueled speculation on who might be the next EPA administrator in a Bush administration. Industry and environmental sources following the campaign believe that Bush will likely consider at least four people for the position, including Christopher DeMuth, the president of a conservative think tank, who has recently emerged as a new contender on a relatively short list that has been circulating for several months.

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November 27, 2000

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Mining industry sources say they will press the next Congress to possibly overturn a recent federal regulation intended to reduce contamination on public lands by limiting hardrock mining. The legislative strategy adds to the industry's previous threat of a possible legal challenge.

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In an apparent attempt to quell industry concerns about listing chemicals as possible carcinogens, California scientists have approved the state's listing requirements as guidance rather than criteria, which sources say could provide flexibility in classifying chemicals as cancer causing. The decision was made under the state's landmark Proposition 65 law, which requires manufacturers of consumer products to list on the label cancer-causing elements.

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A new study funded by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) offers the most substantial evidence to date linking high levels of ultrafine particles in ambient air to mortality rates, and could bolster controversial efforts by EPA to control emissions from both power plants and tailpipes.

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EPA officials are drafting a second round of reforms for the agency's hazardous waste cleanup program in an effort to speed the completion of high-priority cleanups under EPA's corrective action program.

Among the reforms agency officials are considering is an industry-backed plan to streamline cleanup requirements by avoiding a duplication of efforts by industry. EPA officials say they will include the final reforms in a set of guidelines and other policy documents they hope to unveil early next year.

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EPA officials have decided to cut by more than half the agency's list of 15 industry sectors targeted for possible enforcement actions over then next two fiscal years. EPA officials told state regulators last week that they will narrow the list to about six or eight industry sectors.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- European unwillingness to bend to U.S. demands that forest related land-use activities receive emissions credits under the Kyoto Protocol caused negotiations on rules for implementing the treaty to implode Nov. 25, leaving an uncertain future for ratification of the international treaty on climate change, European officials, environmentalists and other observers say.

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November 24, 2000

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- UN officials Nov. 23 floated new negotiating text on rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol that excludes virtually all of the technical aspects of the treaty and instead focuses on a broad set of political statements. President of the talks Jan Pronk released the paper in an effort to salvage the deadlocked negotiations and has given negotiators until late in the day Nov. 25 to complete talks on the treaty.

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As talks here wind down into their final hours, environmentalists are warning that a delay in completing the entire treaty could lead to an eventual weakening of its rules if Gov. George W. Bush wins the presidential election, while 200 students brought to The Hague by Greenpeace participate in a debate with industry officials over key aspects of the treaty.

Environmentalists Call Delay In Treaty Political Mistake

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Environment officials from 180 nations are scrambling to work out a last-minute deal on implementation of the Kyoto Protocol here, with sources saying that the final deal might have to be completed by early morning Nov. 25.

Observers say negotiators have reconvened several "contact groups" in an effort to complete work on dozens of technical issues related to the implementation of the treaty, ranging from compliance mechanisms to how emissions trading schemes will work.

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Environmentalists are attempting an end-run around EPA regional officials by urging headquarters to declare the San Francisco area out of compliance with federal ozone standards. The dispute may break new ground in the role of EPA headquarters in determining the compliance of local areas with federal smog control requirements, which is generally left to EPA's regional officials.

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The Virginia Supreme Court is expected to decide whether state enforcement officials can sue industrial dischargers for alleged water permit violations even after EPA has already sued and prevailed in court against the facilities. According to legal experts, the court's unprecedented decision could expose industry to multiple, costly suits for virtually the same water permit violations under the Clean Water Act.

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November 23, 2000

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Countries participating in talks on the Kyoto Protocol are seriously considerng a move to postpone decisionmaking on two key provisions of the treaty that would help countries achieve emissions reductions targets, observers and delegates to the talks say.

Activists and delegates say that decisionmaking on how to credit land use activites and the use of the so-called "flexibility mechanisms" will likely be put off until sometime next year, possibly within six months.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Environmentalists and delegates from other countries are accusing U.S. officials here of blocking progress on negotiations over implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, saying that the U.S. delegation has been unwilling to show enough flexibility in the talks.

While environmentalists argue that the U.S. has brought these talks to "the brink of failure," small island states charge the U.S. has stalled the negotiations by approaching the treaty's rules as an economic, rather than environmental matter.

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November 22, 2000

Delegates to talks on the climate treaty have narrowly averted a threatened walkout by developing nations, while U.S. officials are considering new language that could encourage the use of renewable energy projects under treaty's flexibility mechanisms and Greenpeace and climate skeptics duke it out.

Negotiators Avoid Walkout By Developing Nations, Begin High-Level Talks

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A group of Representatives are urging U.S. negotiators here to reject any effort to classify nuclear energy as clean or renewable under the Kyoto climate change treaty, saying the dangers and costs of such projects far outweigh any emissions reductions benefits nuclear energy may pose.

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