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Air

MERCURY STUDY COULD BOOST EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT EPA FISH TISSUE CRITERION

A new EPA-backed study showing increased effectiveness of state mercury control programs that assess mercury based on fish tissue levels rather than the amount in the water column could boost efforts to implement the agency's 2001 fish tissue-based water quality criterion, sources familiar with the study say.

EPA and several New England states will soon publish the study indicating that state water quality programs to control mercury are more effective when they measure mercury levels in fish tissue rather than the total amount of the pollutant found in a waterbody.

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EPA Eyes Overhauling Rules To Control Smog-Forming VOCs

EPA will soon seek comment on a proposed overhaul of the way it regulates ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may seek to replace the current emphasis on reducing overall VOC content in the atmosphere with a more flexible system that distinguishes between each compound based on its potential to form ozone, EPA and other sources say.

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Utility Analysis Shows Profitability Unaffected By Air Pollution Controls

A new analysis by an international consulting firm finds that future environmental requirements -- including many possible policies for curbing greenhouse gases -- are unlikely to erode the competitiveness of most coal-fired power plants and could even make many facilities more competitive as they install pollution controls.

"The value of efficient large coal fired power plants can actually increase rather than decrease with stringent environmental control programs," says an executive summary provided to Inside EPA by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).

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Senate Environment Chairman Seeks Delay In EPA's Formaldehyde Risk Review

Senate environment committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) is urging EPA to delay revising its risk estimates for formaldehyde, a key chemical emission from plywood manufacturing facilities and natural gas turbines, until federal researchers complete a pending study on the chemical in about 18 months.

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ANALYSIS SHOWS COAL PLANTS PROFITABLE DESPITE ENVIRONMENTAL RULES

A new analysis by an international consulting firm finds that future environmental requirements -- including many possible policies for curbing greenhouse gases -- are unlikely to erode the competitiveness of most coal-fired power plants and could even make many facilities more competitive as they install pollution controls.

"The value of efficient large coal fired power plants can actually increase rather than decrease with stringent environmental control programs," says an executive summary provided to Inside EPA by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).

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STATES VOICE GROWING CONCERN OVER PREEMPTION OF ENVIRONMENT RULES

Key state officials are raising concern over the growing number of congressional and Bush administration efforts to preempt state environmental and other rules, and are pushing a series of measures to raise awareness of the issue, state sources and other observers say.

The National Governors Association (NGA) has asked the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to develop a report on recent and anticipated efforts in Congress to broaden federal authority by preempting state environmental and other regulations, state sources and environmentalists say.

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EPA WEIGHS OVERHAULING OZONE RULES FOR VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS

EPA will soon seek comment on a proposed overhaul of the way it regulates ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may seek to replace the current emphasis on reducing overall VOC content in the atmosphere with a more flexible system that distinguishes between each compound based on its potential to form ozone, EPA and other sources say.

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ARB AUDIT OF EMBATTLED SAN JOAQUIN DISTRICT MAY GO EASY ON OFFICIALS

Environmentalists say that a forthcoming air board audit of the San Joaquin Valley air district is unlikely to deliver any lighting bolts of criticism that may force new enforcement on polluters or more rules to meet the district's state implementation plan (SIP) requirements. Some activists charge that the agriculture industry's influence over district board members, combined with the state air board's historical reluctance to substantially hammer sister regulatory agencies, may prevent any significant recommendations for change at the district.

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FINDINGS MAY SUPPORT AIR POLLUTION CUTS TO REDUCE HEART DISEASE RISKS

A forthcoming study suggesting that exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is as much a contributor to heart disease as poor diet, stress and lack of exercise could help policymakers justify further reductions in the acceptable level of the pollutant, according to sources familiar with PM research.

Researchers for the first time tested humans to examine what impact PM2.5 has on atherosclerosis -- a narrowing of the arteries that can lead to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. It found that artery wall thickness rose as PM2.5 levels increased.

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JET SAFETY CONCERNS DELAY NEW ARB DIESEL LUBRICITY STANDARD

Concerns about the composition and safety of jet fuel are spurring the air board to delay a new lubricity standard for clean diesel fuel. The delay is not expected to result in emission increases, but air board staff acknowledges that the standard is intended to allow new, lower-emitting engine technology to perform optimally.

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