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Air

EPA PLAN TO ALLOW CROP BURNING IN IDAHO MAY THWART GROUPS' AIR SUIT

EPA's proposed approval of changes to Idaho's air quality strategy allowing farmers to burn grass fields after a harvest could make it more difficult for environmentalists to challenge the air quality impacts of these open burns, even though these groups argue the fires have major public health impacts. But environmental and public health groups are still pursuing other legal arguments to restrict crop burning in the state.

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UTAH UTILITY SEEKS PERMIT USING DISPUTED MODEL CRITICS SAY HURTS PARKS

A Utah power company is using a disputed air quality modeling technique first developed in North Dakota to justify its request to expand a facility without adding pollution controls. Utah is now the second state to employ the modeling approach that has stirred national controversy and prompted EPA modelers in nearly all the regions to caution that the method could potentially underestimate pollution near wilderness areas.

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BOEHLERT VOWS TO PUSH CLEAN-DIESEL SCHOOL BUS BILL DESPITE SETBACKS

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) is pushing to increase funding to help clean up diesel-fueled school buses after a failed attempt last week to pull the proposal from comprehensive energy legislation and move it as a stand-alone bill.

A Boehlert aide says House leaders rejected all requests to break apart the stalled energy bill in advance of a June 15 House re-vote on the measure. This vote was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed because of memorial services for former President Ronald Reagan.

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ENGINE MAKERS TO CHALLENGE WAIVER FOR SOUTH COAST FLEET RULES

The Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) is gearing up to contest plans by California's South Coast Air Quality Management District to seek a waiver from the Clean Air Act for its program regulating diesel fleets.

The battle comes as the two entities are also disputing how to interpret the scope of a Supreme Court ruling that found the air district lacked authority to implement its diesel fleet rule, which requires public and privately owned fleets to replace their diesel vehicles with alternative-fueled vehicles, such as compressed natural gas.

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EPA, INDUSTRY PROPOSE PLAN TO MEASURE IN-USE DIESEL EMISSIONS

EPA is taking comment on a long-awaited proposal to require engine manufacturers to conduct in-use emissions testing of heavy-duty diesel trucks. The plan stems from a 1998 consent decree between EPA and engine makers after the agency accused them of installing "defeat devices" that allowed trucks to pass emissions tests in the laboratory but circumvent the limits on the road.

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EPA, CARB REACH RECIPROCAL DEAL ON EMISSIONS VERIFICATION TESTING

EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that allows each agency to recognize the other's verification of emissions reductions from diesel retrofits and could significantly expand cleanup of existing diesel engines across the country, sources from EPA and CARB say.

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STATES PURSUE REGIONAL EMISSIONS TRADING BEYOND PENDING EPA RULES

State organizations in the Northeast and the West are considering separate regional cap-and-trade initiatives for power plant emissions, which could supplement a proposed federal rule that covers only part of the country and which some states argue is not stringent enough.

In both cases, the state groups are trying to bring pollution down to a level that allows them to meet existing federal standards. The potential regional plans indicate that many states see a need for additional controls even as EPA is touting its new rule as a major step forward in improving air quality.

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INDUSTRY RENEWS COMPLAINTS OVER EPA'S USE OF SECRET AIR QUALITY MODEL

Industry groups are restarting efforts to stop EPA from using a model that predicts how rule changes impact industrial fuel mix, again raising concerns that the model's underlying code is secret, or proprietary, so its results cannot be verified.

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FEINGOLD SEEKS PRESIDENT'S INTERVENTION IN EPA MERCURY RULE PROCESS

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is leading a group of 24 Democratic colleagues and one independent in asking President Bush to rein in his own staff who allegedly softened language in EPA's contentious mercury proposal. The letter is the second time in recent months that senators have weighed in on the mercury issue. In April, Feingold led an effort by 45 senators from both parties who wrote to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt asking him to withdraw the proposal. In response, EPA agreed to extend the comment period and the final rule's publication, and to reanalyze the plan.

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EPA REVIVES MULTI-MEDIA MERCURY PLAN BUT CONFLICT MAY STALL RELEASE

EPA staff are considering ways to revive development of the agency's long-stalled multi-media strategy for addressing mercury pollution, with officials debating whether to advance the agency's earlier approach or make significant changes to the plan, EPA and other sources say.

But sources outside EPA are not sure the agency will release the national strategy this year because some officials fear it could renew criticism of the Bush administration's controversial plan for controlling mercury emissions from power plants in an election year.

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