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Daily News

October 06, 2000

A number of environmentalists have abandoned an international effort to reduce persistent environmental toxins in the Great Lakes, arguing that the strictly-voluntary approach lacks real incentives for industry to take any significant steps in reducing dioxin, mercury, and other contaminants.

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A key House chairman is pressing EPA to create a new ombudsman office that will help individuals charged with environmental violations understand their legal options. But EPA officials are skeptical, saying that it would be a conflict of interest for the agency to give legal advice to the very people it is accusing.

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October 05, 2000

A landmark North American study shows that dioxin from primarily U.S. industrial sources travels thousands of miles and potentially affects public health as far away as the Arctic. The findings are being touted as evidence of the need to establish international standards to control the known human carcinogen. The report was compiled by an international study group formed under the North American Free Trade Agreement to examine environmental border problems.

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Attempting to capitalize on the politically-charged issue of rising energy costs, environmentalists are arguing that outdated fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles are contributing to the current energy crisis. Findings released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group show that Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards add up to an average of $5,700 in extra fuel costs for each new vehicle.

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Vocal House and Senate critics of global warming controls have filed a lawsuit against President Clinton claiming that an upcoming report is nothing more than a political prop intended to help Vice President Gore in his run for the presidency. The lawmakers claim Clinton and White House science officials violated public-review laws by drafting the report behind closed doors.

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Michigan environmentalists have released a report that claims the state's regulatory agency has consistently sided with big industry in cleanup and other environmental protection decisions at the expense of public health. The report, "Dereliction of Duty," tracks a number of cases where the group says the state's Department of Environmental Quality sided with business against the wishes of local residents and the advice of environmental experts.

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Two key senators are pressing Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) to attach brownfields legislation to an anticipated omnibus spending bill. In their efforts, the senators have sent a letter to President Clinton urging his support for the bipartisan bill. The senators hope that presidential support for the measure would help convince Lott to attach the apparently non-controversial language to the massive appropriations bill.

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October 04, 2000

The Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls spar on clean coal technologies, drilling in the nation's wildlife preserves, renewable energy fuels, and other energy and environment-related issues.

This Inside EPA exclusive provides the complete text of portions of the landmark debate regarding energy and the environment.

Election 2000 Presidential Debate Between Democratic Candidate Vice President Al Gore And Republican Candidate Governor George W. Bush

Location: Clark Athletic Center, University Of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts

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EPA Administrator Carol Browner has announced plans to survey all agency employees in an effort to identify managers accused of discriminatory practices. Browner also intends to restructure the agency's complaint process for reviewing staff allegations about unfair treatment.

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Representatives from six diesel engine manufacturers are pressing EPA to accept draft engine designs that include a computer program that shuts off pollution-control devices during extreme driving conditions as a way to protect the engines, according to sources. The industry says the design is in compliance with a long-standing legal agreement that resolved EPA allegations about emission violations.

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Lawmakers have put EPA Administrator Carol Browner on notice that they will keep pressure on the agency throughout the remainder of her tenure regarding allegations of widespread racial and gender discrimination. In response, Browner promised a comprehensive overhaul of the way the agency handles civil rights complaints. The allegations and an ongoing congressional investigation could put a dark stain on the accomplishments of the administrator, who came into office pledging to end environmental racism.

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The White House has cut a tentative deal with congressional Republicans to include report language in EPA's spending bill that would likely restrict the agency's ability to dredge contaminated sediments until after the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) completes a study on the controversial cleanup method. But the agreement, which eliminates a major presidential hurdle for final passage of the bill, was drafted over the strong objections of EPA.

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October 03, 2000

Legislation approved yesterday by the Senate contains an amendment that has prompted a veto threat by President Clinton. While the bill contains funding for a number of major water cleanup projects, the president claims that an amendment concerning the Missouri River would undermine the administration's plan to " modernize operations" on the river, according to a Statement of Administration Policy.

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State utility regulators have declared support for a temporary high-level nuclear waste storage facility proposed for a site 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. The endorsement is a sign of growing support for interim disposal of commercial nuclear waste as a hedge against the possibility that the Department of Energy will fail in its pledge to build a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

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State utility regulators have declared support for a temporary high-level nuclear waste storage facility proposed for a site 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. The endorsement is a sign of growing support for interim disposal of commercial nuclear waste as a hedge against the possibility that the Department of Energy will fail in its pledge to build a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

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The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is praising California Gov. Gray Davis (D) for signing legislation that includes $18 million in grant subsidies for electric cars purchased under the state's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate. But the group characterizes the bill is an important first step, arguing that more still needs to be done to ensure that the state's ultra-clean car mandate works. California is generally considered the nation's leader in making electric cars widely available for consumers.

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Congressional investigators are calling on EPA to develop a long-term strategy for improving data management. Failure to act quickly would continue to undermine the agency's ability to regulate based on a sound assessment of risks and measured environmental results, according to the congressional officials. The investigators claim EPA has failed to act on earlier recommendations, noting that the agency plans by the end of the year to release a multi-year strategy on information management.

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Two powerful chairmen in the House are warning Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) against moving proposed legislation, which may be sent to him from the Senate, that would ban the use of the controversial clean-fuel additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The legislation is being offered as a way to address environmental concerns being raised about groundwater contamination from leaking underground tanks containing MTBE.

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EPA waste chief Tim Fields Oct. 3 said the agency has no intention of complying with a new House Republican demand to provide by week's end acceptable legislative language on exempting small businesses from Superfund liability. Instead, Fields told Inside EPA that the agency would expand on earlier comments outlining its opposition to H.R. 5175, a GOP plan to relieve small business of Superfund liabilities.

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