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Daily News

May 16, 2001

Conservative Democrats are drafting legislation that may scrap EPA's controversial clean air permitting requirements with a cap-and-trade emissions control scheme that will include carbon dioxide (CO2) limits. The legislation is being developed by the New Democrat Coalition as part of a broader energy plan that the group hopes will attract the support of moderate Republicans.

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May 15, 2001

A new study just underway will examine the carcinogenic effects of diesel emissions to determine the level of exposure to the exhaust that is likely to cause cancer, according to the physicians conducting the research. The findings will likely play an important role for policymakers who have been grappling for years on establishing diesel exhaust regulations.

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A wide coalition of governors, state energy regulators and federal environmental officials are rallying against a proposed plan by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to reduce the amount of information power plants are required to make public. The officials say the plan would, among other things, restrict the ability of EPA and states to develop emissions inventories and conduct monitoring of the electricity market, and to develop any future credible power plant regulations.

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EPA science advisors are putting the finishing touches on a "white paper" for using environmental indicators to judge the effectiveness of regulatory and enforcement programs. The findings are likely to fuel calls by some lawmakers and industry officials for EPA to reorganize by emphasizing the results of its initiatives rather than simply tracking the number of regulations and enforcement actions taken.

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Preliminary results from a first-time EPA pilot on capping contamination on the ocean floor indicates success in using the controversial cleanup technique.

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The electric utility and oil refining industries are pointing to an EPA crackdown last year on proposed modifications to a Midwest power plant to support their claims that the agency's clean air permit program prevents existing facilities from expanding energy production to meet current demand.

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House Democrats have launched a counter-offensive against the Bush administration's upcoming energy policy report by releasing a set of "principles" they intend to uphold as the debate continues.

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Hydroelectric lobbyists are optimistic that legislation will pass this year that would substantially reduce the authority of EPA and other federal agencies to impose environmental conditions on dam operations. The legislation is part of a broader effort to streamline the relicensing of hydroelectric dams by granting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sole oversight of the process, which is expected to be endorsed by the Bush administration's upcoming energy strategy.

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May 14, 2001

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The Bush administration plans to enter formal negotiations with the auto industry on easing the goals of a Clinton-created program for developing super fuel-efficient vehicles.

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Nuclear power industry and labor officials are raising concerns that efforts by the Bush administration and Congress to boost nuclear energy may run up against President Bush's stated goal of increasing U.S. independence from foreign energy supplies.

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The Wisconsin legislature has developed the first state insurance program for brownfields redevelopment in the country, which protects private parties against unforeseen liability and provides the state coverage for expenses incurred when conducting additional remediation at failed cleanups.

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EPA regional sources say that the agency might be forced to issue new requirements for thousands of underground storage tanks nationwide based on new studies showing that the tanks are still leaking because of improper installation and maintenance.

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House Democrats are preparing counterproposals to preempt the Bush administration's upcoming national energy strategy, which will be unveiled May 17. Democrats have gleaned from speeches and interviews enough to begin their counterassault, and there are reports that a number of counterproposals are in the works.

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May 11, 2001

Senate Democrats are attempting to frame the debate over the Bush administration's anticipated energy strategy by arguing that it will fail to address the immediate needs of ordinary Americans. The Democrats claim the strategy will ignore two critical issues that are at the heart of the nation's energy crisis: wholesale electricity prices in California and gasoline prices throughout the country.

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Oil refiners have drafted a legislative plan for stripping out of the Clean Air Act a federal mandate that cleaner-burning gasoline must contain two percent oxygenate. The plan was developed in response to a request by the Senate energy committee chairman, who is looking into possible fuel supply shortages caused by the requirement.

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A congressionally-mandated panel of scientists examining the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act have been handed a series of legislative amendments drafted by environmentalists and state air regulators. The plan calls for a national carbon dioxide standard on tailpipe emissions from light-duty trucks, and a uniform technology-based standard on large sources of air pollution. The proposal was unveiled at a May 11 meeting of a panel convened by the National Academy Sciences to review the air act.

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A member of Congress from California is pushing commercial development of nuclear fusion technology to address the nation's energy crisis. The lawmaker claims that the promising technology offers a source of nuclear power that does not produce radioactive waste.

Efforts to boost nuclear power have come to the forefront of the energy debate, with the nuclear industry and Vice President Cheney touting construction of nuclear power plants as a zero-emission source of energy.

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Environmentalists are threatening legal action against the Bush administration's energy task force, arguing that the group's closed-door meetings undermine public confidence in the task force's efforts. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is seeking documentation from the group on its meetings with parties both inside and outside the administration in developing a national energy strategy.

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After years of disagreement, House lawmakers have cut a bipartisan agreement to exempt a number of small parties from Superfund liability and are planning quick action to pass the measure before the Memorial Day recess.

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