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Daily News

October 19, 2000

Solid waste officials at EPA are planning a major overhaul of Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations based on an agency review of the municipal landfill requirements.

Bob Dellinger of EPA's Office of Solid Waste outlined the agency's priorities for revising the rules at an Oct. 17 meeting of the Association of State & Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO). According to Dellinger, the reforms are an attempt to respond to findings from an EPA review of RCRA rules that in part was required under a federal small business relief law.

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EPA and a host other federal agencies have released a policy on how to coordinate activities on federal lands to protect watersheds, while at the same time stripping the plan of controversial water quality requirements, including nonpoint source controls. The policy was drafted as part of the Clinton administration's highly-touted Clean Water Action Plan to improve the nation's water quality.

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In an effort to ease California's energy crunch, the state has formed a "clean energy green team" to draft a long-term strategy for expediting the construction of power plants in the face of strict environmental requirements. The effort builds on several recent agreements between local air regulators and individual power companies to increase electricity production at existing power plants.

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EPA and the state of California have announced one of the largest single private-party settlements ever struck under the Superfund program.

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EPA spending legislation is on its way to the president's desk, following a flurry of activity by the House and Senate on Oct. 19 to pass the measure. The action caps months of wrangling among lawmakers from both chambers over controversial "riders" intended to restrict certain EPA activities.

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October 18, 2000

A major study on the causes of gasoline price spikes in the Midwest exonerates EPA's clean-fuel requirements of any responsibility and places blame on the supply decisions of refiners. The findings will likely provide cover for EPA, which has come under attack from some members of Congress and the petroleum industry who claim that tougher clean-fuel standards are responsible for recent gasoline prices. The study, released Oct.

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EPA and the state of California are poised to announce a cleanup agreement for one of the nation's largest Superfund sites. The government agencies are slated to unveil on Oct. 19 a settlement for the Iron Mountain Superfund site near Redding, CA.

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Air quality experts and environmental health consultants are criticizing a California draft assessment that statewide ambient air quality standards for particulate matter (PM), ozone and nitrogen dioxide may have to be tightened to better protect children. The criticism highlights difficulties EPA has had in drafting tougher air quality controls, including diesel requirements and particulate matter restrictions, designed to reduce asthma in children.

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Recent studies on emissions from increased traffic along the U.S.-Mexico border under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) conclude that current data is insufficient for designing public policies to control pollution. The findings could be a blow to U.S. and Texas air regulators who have long claimed that truck exhaust from congestion at border crossings must be addressed in some way.

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Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, in the wake of a presidential debate that hardly touched on environment, launched a blistering attack on the environmental record of Gov. George W. Bush, saying the Republican candidate's record in Texas has been among the nation's worst.

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Last-minute efforts by a bipartisan group of senators to move a brownfields bill this year have died, according to David Conover, staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

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The House is expected Oct. 19 to approve an EPA spending bill that retains a number of controversial "riders" that have already cleared the Senate. The House vote follows the convening of a House-Senate conference committee which was formed to "rubber stamp" a bill that had been negotiated informally by lawmakers from both chambers, sources say.

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October 17, 2000

Environmentalists say a new study provides overwhelming support for closing a Clean Air Act "loophole" on grandfathered power plants and strengthening controls on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The study claims that despite EPA efforts to reduce emissions through recent regulatory actions, releases from older coal-fired plants that have been granted special status under the law will result in thousands of premature deaths. The study, released Oct.

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Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has attacked EPA's efforts to reform the agency's enforcement and compliance activities, saying promised changes range from "woefully late to simply non-existent."

Bond (R-MO) chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee as well as EPA's funding subcommittee, has demanded that EPA Administrator Carol Browner provide him with a series of explanations for what he believes is the agency's lack of progress on a host of reinvention commitments, according to an Oct. 11 letter obtained by Inside EPA.

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A recently-released General Accounting Office (GAO) report criticizes EPA for what GAO considers shortcomings in how the agency links the role of science to the policy formulation process.

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EPA has announced a joint initiative with the Department of Transportation to reduce smog by urging workers to use less-polluting options in getting to work each day. The program encourages a host of voluntary steps by employers that include parking space "cashouts," offering transit fare subsidies, encouraging telecommuting, offering compressed and flexible work schedules, and promoting office carpools.

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In preparation for a crucial workshop next week by the California Air Resources Board on its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations, the board's staff is recommending a modification that rewards automakers that develop "aggressive" production plans for partial ZEVs. The effort could be significant nationally because California is generally regarded as a leader in promoting widespread consumer access to electric cars and other types of zero-emission vehicles.

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EPA has released a revised guidance document for states that takes a broader approach to reducing runoff pollution from agricultural operations by addressing both coastal and inland operations. The updated document is likely to fuel a national debate over setting controls on nonpoint sources of water contaminants.

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The House has passed legislation that would change the way industries conduct toxicity testing required by EPA and other federal agencies. The bill is intended to reduce the use of animal testing and avoid duplication across federal agencies by streamlining research requirements. H.R. 4281, which passed the House Oct.

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