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Daily News

November 07, 2000


Supporters of a ballot initiative in San Francisco that allows voters to decide today on the extent of cleanup at a former military base are already claiming victory, citing an agreement between the Navy and the city just days ago on transferring for private use the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Backers of the initiative say it marks the first time that military cleanup standards would be put to a public vote. The ballot initiative, if approved, would be one of a number of criteria the Navy will consider in determining cleanup standards, according to military sources.

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Developers and other opponents to sprawl initiatives out West have set new spending records in their campaigns against the initiatives, with pollsters predicting defeat for both landmark propositions that are intended to reduce smog and other environmental problems by reducing suburban growth.

Environmentalists say separate initiatives in Arizona and Colorado are critical to managing future growth in the region, which they say threatens air and water quality and the preservation of open green spaces.

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EPA sources say the agency plans to strictly enforce a controversial Clean Water Act rule that would require municipal sewer systems to treat all water prior to discharge, even wet weather flow that some permits had allowed to bypass the treatment facilities. Such a move could cost those systems billions of dollars, municipal sources say.

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Negotiations between Delta Airlines and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission over efforts to control air pollution at Texas airports broke down last week, sending the agency and the industry's Air Transport Association (ATA) to court over whether the state has the authority to regulate airport ground support equipment.

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Opponents of an expanded Texas oil pipeline are vowing to go to court in a dispute that government lawyers fear may lead to an expansion of federal obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act. Pipeline opponents are disputing the conclusions by EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that the expansion does not pose a significant environmental impact.

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EPA and industry groups faced off before the Supreme Court today over EPA's air standards for ozone and particulate matter, with justices carefully scrutinizing industry's plea that the agency should be required to consider costs when setting air quality standards.

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November 06, 2000

EPA water officials are in the process of revising a list of recommended state-of-the-art controls on polluted runoff from farms and other agricultural practices, sources say, significantly expanding the scope of controls outlined in a recent draft guidance. The revisions are expected to focus on runoff from animal feedlot operations, which increasingly have attracted attention from environmentalists and regulators as significant sources of pollution.

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EPA has proposed revised waste import rules to allow U.S. territories to ship toxic materials containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to the mainland in response to concerns that the territories lack adequate disposal capacity. The proposed rule, as outlined in a Federal Register notice, would ease current requirements that make it nearly impossible for territories to store the waste anywhere other than within their own boundaries, agency sources say.

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EPA has released its much-anticipated revised methodologies for strengthening water quality criteria for a variety of toxins, including mercury, establishing the basis for future water discharge limits. Agency officials will use the methodology in developing new human health benchmarks on toxics in bodies of water, which states are encouraged to follow in developing water quality standards and discharge limits.

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EPA's just-issued "plain English" version of its general stormwater permit for industrial facilities retains language on analytical monitoring requirements that the agency had previously considered scrapping because of concerns that the requirements do not provide adequate information about the effectiveness of the best management practices required by the permits.

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In an effort to shore up a perceived gap in federal controls on diesel exhaust, California regulators have decided to make the terms of a federal legal agreement with engine makers a permanent component of state monitoring requirements. California officials say the move, which other states are expected to follow, is necessary to ensure that manufacturers stick with the stringent controls even after the landmark legal settlement expires.

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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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