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Air

DECISION TO LOWER PM BENEFITS IN CAIR RULE MAY AFFECT FUTURE AIR RULES

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis reducing the estimated benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) in the agency's transport rule could prompt weaker requirements in future air regulations to limit PM -- including technology standards, mobile sources controls and other measures -- because they weaken agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of these measures, EPA sources say.

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POWER COMPANIES FUME OVER POSSIBLE FURTHER RECLAIM RE-ENTRY DELAY

Representatives of power companies operating in the Los Angeles area are irked over a proposal by South Coast air district staff to delay the companies' re-entry into the district's nitrogen oxide (NOx) credit trading program, RECLAIM, to ensure more pollution reductions. The proposal, floated in a recent staff white paper to be discussed at a public hearing next month, is seen by power producers as unfairly limiting their ability to sell legitimate credits to non-power facilities in the program.

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ARB REACHES OUT TO IMPROVE AGRIBUSINESS RELATIONS OVER NEW RULES

Air board officials are striving to improve relations with the agriculture industry, which has complained it is being blindsided by a flurry of first-time state and local control measures with little communication from regulators. State staffers are being directed to maintain regular contact with industry representatives, informing them of any new regulatory activities at the local air district or state agency levels.

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BUILDERS, ACTIVISTS BATTLE OVER ARB LAND-USE DECISION GUIDANCE

A key part of the air board's controversial draft guidance for local land-use decisions is the focus of an upcoming meeting expected to pit builders and other affected industries against environmental justice (EJ) and "smart growth" advocates. Board staff has been criticized by environmental justice activists of ignoring their recommendations to revise the draft guidance to make it more protective of communities near industrial areas.

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HIGH EMISSIONS FROM ETHANOL CONFIRMED; WAIVER CASE SEEN BOLSTERED

A new study that confirms considerable evaporative hydrocarbon emission increases from California vehicles running on ethanol-containing reformulated gasoline (RFG) may bolster the state's push for a wavier to the federal RFG oxygen mandate, and may confirm the need to amend the state's Phase 3 RFG rules to reduce ethanol use overall, sources said.

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EPA Likely To Seek Full Appellate Review Of Rare 'Vacatur' Of Air Rule

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say.

EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and potentially harming the environment, attorneys say.

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EPA To Decide On Easing Ozone Requirements For Michigan

EPA is poised to make a decision on a request by state regulators to ease ozone requirements for Detroit, arguing that the proposal would soften economic hardships throughout the southeast region of Michigan. The request has political implications as the state is a battleground in the presidential race, and the state's economic woes are viewed as a political vulnerability for President Bush's re-election bid.

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Industry Eyes Possible Fixes To EPA Implementation Of New Ozone Standards

Industry officials are preparing to ask EPA to make a series of fixes that would likely ease requirements for complying with the agency's strict new ozone standard, according to an internal industry e-mail.

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Democrats Eye Budget 'Rider' For EPA To Conduct Study On Mercury Rule

Congressional Democrats are considering plans to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to conduct studies on its controversial mercury emissions plan that top officials have so far declined to conduct.

One House Democratic source says the rider would not ban EPA from finalizing its mercury trading proposal -- a plan critics say would delay adequate reductions for too long -- but would instead earmark funding which the agency would be required to use to conduct analysis of more stringent mercury emissions proposals.

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DOD OBJECTS TO STRINGENT COLORADO INDOOR AIR STANDARDS FOR TCE

The Defense Department is calling Colorado's decision to adopt a stringent indoor air policy for trichloroethylene (TCE) premature, pointing to the unresolved controversy over the scientific values on which the state bases its screening and remediation policy.

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