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Daily News

November 10, 2000

The United States has released a strategy paper defending an aggressive emissions trading scheme to reduce greenhouse gases just days before the launch of international climate change talks in The Hague. The paper may add fuel to ongoing controversy between the U.S. and the European Union over the extent of emissions trading under a global agreement for reducing carbon and other emissions suspected to contribute to global warming.

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Faced with the threat of a lawsuit from environmentalists, EPA is seriously considering rejecting a smog-reduction plan for San Francisco, possibly signaling to local air regulators that increased enforcement activities is not enough, and that tough new emission control standards will be necessary.

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EPA is urging a federal appeals court to dismiss an industry challenge to a new Superfund enforcement guidance that is expected to boost the administrative costs charged to polluters in Superfund cleanups. In its brief, the agency argues that the guidance is not ripe for review and that the court lacks jurisdiction.

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EPA officials are quietly drafting new guidance to states on how to define certain types of recyclable hazardous materials to reduce the amount of waste that must be disposed of under strict requirements.

Agency officials say the effort represents a clarification of an existing definition, and is intended to bring consistency to state hazardous waste recycling programs under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act. One EPA source says the agency is merely "trying to clarify [the current definition], not trying to change it."

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November 09, 2000

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The Defense Department reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent between 1990 and 1996, through lower energy use in both operations and training and at installations, and from smaller base populations and increased recycling, according to a just-released report from the Pentagon's environmental security office.

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Leading industry groups are pressing EPA to re-propose clean air permitting reforms, which may scuttle agency efforts to complete the streamlining process before the Clinton administration leaves office.

Industry officials charge that EPA's most recent interpretation of the rule, issued informally as part of ongoing talks with industry, is a vast departure from the agency's last proposal, and that federal law requires EPA to re-issue the plan for public comment.

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The Department of Energy has concluded that there are substantial barriers impeding cleanup contract reforms, including difficulties in attracting contractors because of the financial risks associated with federal cleanup contracts. The findings are expected to be outlined in an upcoming report, entitled "Analysis of the DOE Contractor Base."

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EPA is considering regulations on the emissions from an increasingly popular type of landfill that is not covered by current regulations. EPA requested comment on the possible standards in a recent Federal Register notice, which was part of a broader proposal to regulate certain aspects of landfill emissions monitoring.

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In the wake of this week's election, which left Republicans in charge of the House, GOP staffers are already working on possible committee reassignments, with one likely scenario putting Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) in charge of the Science Committee. Boehlert, who gained the endorsement of environmentalists in his reelection bid, would replace Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), a vocal critic of EPA. Sensenbrenner will likely be moving over to head the Judiciary Committee, sources say.

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The League of Conservation Voters is claiming victory in the aftermath of Tuesday's election, pointing to the success of an overwhelming majority of both Republican and Democratic candidates backed by the group for seats in the House. Eighty-five percent of the House candidates backed by the LCV won in their bids for a congressional seat.

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The European Union is pressing the U.S. to commit to reaching an agreement at international climate change talks next week in The Hague, Netherlands. The U.S. has been accused in the past of slowing down the process by holding firm to an emissions trading scheme that many other countries oppose.

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November 08, 2000

Lobbyists are attributing Republican George W. Bush's victory in West Virginia, a state that traditionally votes Democratic, to the governor's early and strong support of the coal industry, particularly in his call for greater investments in clean-coal technologies. One source notes that while coal mining unions endorsed Gore, many rank-and-file miners broke with union leaders and came out in large numbers at Bush rallies, which likely translated into votes.

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One of the few Republicans in Congress to garner an endorsement from environmentalists, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) handily won reelection yesterday. The senator is chairman of a Superfund subcommittee, and was backed by environmentalists for support of brownfields legislation and the protection of environmentally-sensitive lands and other natural resources.

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The likely razor-close margin of victory in the presidential race, regardless of who wins, has prompted environmental and industry lobbyists to begin considering regulatory and legislative strategies in the absence of a clear mandate by the voters, sources say, with neither candidate likely to offer immediate changes for EPA.

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The Ohio EPA has proposed tightening the state's infectious waste management rules by requiring transporters of the waste to identify temporary storage locations where infectious waste is being kept prior to its delivery to a treatment facility, in an effort to reduce the risk of contamination caused by accidental leaks.

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Voters in Arizona and Colorado yesterday struck down initiatives aimed at limiting urban sprawl, while Ohio voters approved a referendum that will allow the state to issue bonds for brownfield cleanups.

In Oregon, with most of the votes counted, a measure requiring compensation of property owners hurt by environmental laws is projected to pass.

The following is a rundown of key statewide initiatives that appeared on ballots throughout the country.

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EPA is poised to issue a proposal modifying its controversial regional ozone control plan in response to a recent federal court ruling that remanded a portion of the regulation back to the agency for further consideration.

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California voters defeated an industry-backed ballot measure that would have required a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature and local governments to establish new environmental fees on businesses that are not directly tied to regulatory services provided by the government. Voters defeated Proposition 37, 52 percent to 48 percent.

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The outcome of Sen. Slade Gorton's (R-WA) reelection bid, which was hotly contested by environmentalists, may not be known for more than a week, leaving unresolved whether Democrats or Republicans will control the Senate. While it is generally assumed that a 50-50 split in the Senate would throw control of the chamber into the hands of the Republicans, regardless of who winds up occupying the White House, the unprecedented nature of the election could lead to a number of other possible scenarios that produce a different outcome.

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