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Air

ENVIRONMENTALISTS EYE MANDATORY INSURANCE PLAN TO REDUCE EMISSIONS

Activists believe a pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) automobile insurance proposal, included in a new book of policy offerings on reducing air pollution aimed at President Bush, is a good idea but would have to be mandatory to have any real impact.

PAYD would set up a method of calculating insurance costs for drivers based on the amount of time they spend behind the wheel. Activists believe PAYD can help states reduce their mobile source emissions without having to implement new laws or change their state implementation plans (SIPs).

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NAVAJO NATION BECOMES FIRST TRIBE TO WIN FEDERAL PERMIT AUTHORITY

EPA is granting the Navajo Nation authority to administer the federal clean air operating permits program known as Title V, making it the first Indian nation to control permits for major pollution sources on their lands.

The Nov. 18 decision is likely to prompt other tribes to seek similar authority to take charge of their own Title V programs rather than have EPA run them, according to one Navajo source.

"This is a very significant decision. Now that we have this authority, we will be able to monitor [pollution sources] more closely," the Navajo source says.

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DEREGULATED POWER MARKETS MAKE EMISSION CUTS DIFFICULT, INDUSTRY SAYS

Some electric power companies are calling on Northeast environment officials to weigh in on future proposals that could make it easier for them to fund environmental improvements in deregulated electricity markets. The companies say that in states where the markets are still tightly regulated, it is relatively easy to pass the costs of environmental compliance on to consumers. But they argue that prospect becomes much more difficult in the growing number of deregulated markets.

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ENVIRONMENTAL MODELERS EYE NEW 'ETHICS' POLICY TO ENSURE RELIABILITY

Environmental modeling experts inside and outside of government may join with policymakers to form a professional association and adopt a code of modeling ethics, in an effort to provide greater assurances about the ability of models to predict realistic outcomes. The move comes amid concerns that some modeling forecasts sacrifice accuracy to reflect outcomes that would benefit their sponsors.

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EPA REPORT MAY BE EVIDENCE IN FUTURE LAWSUITS CHALLENGING WEAK RULES

EPA admitted in its new annual report that it is failing to achieve several goals to reduce ambient concentrations of key air pollutants, an admission that will likely be used in future lawsuits to show that EPA's air rules are not strict enough, according to environmentalists.

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EPA REVISING COST-BENEFIT MODEL TO ACCOUNT FOR TECHNOLOGY LIMITS

EPA is planning revisions to a controversial clean air cost-benefit model that could help the agency to counter claims by state and environmental groups that industry can achieve early emission reduction targets that are stricter than what EPA has proposed in its mercury control plan.

The planned revisions are drawing harsh criticism from state officials and at least one agency source.

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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). The effort could result in a major reorganization of a key policy that has changed little since 1977, which EPA hopes will produce more effective ways to reduce ozone levels.

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SUITS OVER SULFURIC ACID RELEASES MAY FORESHADOW NATIONAL DILEMMA

A third lawsuit has been filed against an electric utility company over unintended sulfuric acid emissions caused by new pollution control technology to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx). The litigation is teeing up a host of potential problems as EPA is poised to require broad use of the technology to cut transported pollution, and has no plans to regulate sulfuric acid.

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EPA MAY LAUNCH NATIONAL EFFORT TO SPEED DIESEL EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS

EPA is considering a national program to encourage or require diesel trucks to implement costly software fixes to reduce air pollution, but the agency is likely to face opposition from engine manufacturers even if the program is voluntary.

The move is being considered because EPA erred in calculating how long it would take to make the fix and reduce emissions, after finalizing a landmark 1998 consent decree that required the engine industry to fund these changes.

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EPA's Mercury Data Notice Includes Revised Benefit Calculations

EPA is detailing a new method for calculating the benefits of its pending rule to address mercury emissions from utilities, as part of a long-awaited notice of data availability (NODA) that also summarizes a wealth of public comments on the controversial proposal. The NODA, published in the Dec. 1 Federal Register, seeks public comment on a revised methodology for assessing the rule's benefits, but does not include the results of any new benefits analysis.

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