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Daily News

November 03, 2000

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) last week introduced climate change legislation while out on the campaign trail with Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, who recently has been facing heightened attacks by Vice President Gore on global warming and other environmental issues. The McCain bill could offer Bush an opportunity to reinforce his position on climate change by supporting the measure.

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California officials are touting the opening this week of a massive demonstration facility for alternative-fueled vehicles as nothing short of a revolutionary step for the transportation industry, offering viable alternatives to the combustion engine that are likely to drastically reduce vehicle emissions and smog.

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In its final action before Election Day, Congress has approved a massive restoration program for the Florida Everglades, possibly handing candidates on both sides of the aisle a major environmental accomplishment as they head into the final days of a number of hotly contested races in the state.

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A House Republican who has been a vocal critic of EPA is asking the agency to investigate whether EPA employees violated federal law by using government resources to campaign on behalf of Vice President Al Gore, according to documents obtained by Inside EPA.

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Federal and state regulators have developed a computer model intended to help them justify the costs of water quality requirements, which have come under increasing criticism from lawmakers and industry. The model was developed by EPA and state water quality officials to identify possible funding gaps in the implementation and management of regulatory programs under the Clean Water Act.

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A group of EPA science advisors has granted a green light to the agency's reassessment of the health risks from dioxin, which has come under sharp attack by industry and lawmakers who have tried to delay release of the review. The reassessment, which must still clear one more scientific panel, focuses on both the cancer and developmental impacts of dioxin and related compounds and is expected to serve as the basis for a slew of new EPA regulatory efforts.

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A highly-regarded think tank offers government policymakers a list of recommendations for influencing consumer purchases of appliances to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, concluding that public education is more effective than offering tax credits.

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Environmentalists are planning to file a lawsuit in Michigan that sources say is intended to put pressure on EPA to crack down on state regulators for allegedly failing to impose adequate water discharge limits for certain types of releases, and the lawsuit draws on past demands that EPA yank the state's Clean Water Act permitting authority.

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November 02, 2000

Industry lawyers this week have asked a federal court to block EPA from using draft cancer guidelines for controlling dioxin, building on other recent lawsuits that accuse the agency of inappropriately establishing mandatory controls through guidance. The plaintiffs in the latest dioxin suit argue that if the agency used the currently applicable 1986 guidelines, rather than a more recent draft update, then the cancer classifications for the pesticide and dioxin could not be supported.

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EPA and state lawmakers are in preliminary talks over launching a major new study of state environmental laws that could be used by environmental permitting and enforcement agencies to resolve environmental justice disputes. The joint project would mark a new front in a growing effort to deal with the issue of environmental racism and could provide state regulators and civil rights groups with a potentially useful roadmap of existing statutory and other governmental authorities for addressing environmental justice complaints.

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Lawmakers from California are working to codify in statute a controversial deal between the departments of Interior and Defense on expanding a key Army training facility in the face of wildlife habitat protections and endangered species requirements. The proposed deal has garnered the support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a strong advocate for protecting desert lands, and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), a longtime proponent of the Army base expansion, and sources say the lawmakers are looking to legalize the agreement in the remaining days of the 106th Congress.

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Environmental groups have sued the Small Business Administration (SBA) claiming that the federal agency's lending practices contribute to smog by encouraging urban sprawl. While the immediate focus of the lawsuit is on air quality in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, the environmentalists say the case could lead to wholesale changes in federal business loan policies to give greater consideration to environmental impacts.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has introduced legislation to address global warming, making good on a promise he made at the National Republican Convention last summer. The legislation is being offered in the waning days of the current Congress and is not likely to be acted on during the current legislative session, but could set a marker for debate in the next Congress. The bill calls for the creation of an international body to study and assess the causes and impacts of climate change.

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In what could be the first step in a nationwide effort, EPA is banning the common water discharge practice in the Great Lakes of using what are referred to as "mixing zones," which are established to dilute the discharges of industrial and other sources that exceed toxic limits. EPA says the move is the first step in establishing a nationwide mixing zone regulation sometime next year. The ban, which involves a ten-year phaseout, is expected to dramatically reduce discharges of mercury, dioxin, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Great Lakes.

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A broad coalition of environmental groups is pressing an international trade tribunal to allow activists to back the U.S. in its support of California's plan to ban a common fuel additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), out of concerns about groundwater. The dispute, filed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), could have a broad impact on international environmental disputes by allowing environmentalists and other interested parties to participate in future NAFTA complaints, according to sources involved in the case.

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November 01, 2000

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EPA and the state of California have agreed to a pioneering Superfund site cleanup plan under which potentially responsible parties (PRPs) would be allowed to invest portions of their cleanup costs in financial instruments that through interest and appreciation will fund significant portions of future costs.

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EPA last week met with representatives from industry and states, among others, to consider ways to boost public participation in the review of broad, clean air permits for industrial facilities. The meeting was scheduled in part to address claims by environmentalists that regulators are failing to fulfill statutory responsibilities to make public, in a timely fashion, information regarding pending permit applications.

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The Department of Energy has asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review DOE's waste management strategies following a study that found the energy agency has little or no information on whether buried transuranic (TRU) waste is leaking into soil and causing contamination.

The DOE analysis also states that the radioactivity of the buried TRU is ten times higher than previously thought, although the volume of the waste is roughly consistent with previous estimates.

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A federal agency responsible for promoting U.S. investments in developing countries has released a first-of-its-kind report that is intended to encourage investors to back low-emission energy projects. The report concludes that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's energy portfolio is dominated by projects emitting relatively low doses of carbon, and that the agency is not a major contributor to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

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