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Air

CALIFORNIA GREENHOUSE GAS RULES LIKELY TO FACE LEGAL CHALLENGE

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a long-awaited draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles that is nearly certain to face a legal challenge from industry.

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EIA FINDS NEWEST MCCAIN-LIEBERMAN BILL LOWERS COSTS, ADDS FLEXIBILITY

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), a branch of the Department of Energy, last week released a first-time analysis of a scaled-back version of the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill the senators prepared ahead of the failed vote on the measure last year. The report, prepared at the request of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), found the changes to the bill reduce near-term costs and add flexibility.

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BUSH ADMINISTRATION DEFENDS CUTS TO NOAA CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMS

The Bush administration is defending significant funding cuts to climate change research programs sought in fiscal year 2005 by the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), saying that its efforts to address uncertainty surrounding the risks of climate change are more robust than any previous administration.

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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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