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DEMOCRATS USE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES TO REACH RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES

Democratic activists seeking to narrow the Republican advantage among religious voters are promoting environmental issues as a way to reach voters who supported President Bush in the last election.

At the same time, a key left-leaning group is launching a multi-year effort to court religious communities on issues that include the environment, noting recent interest from Christian, Jewish and other faith groups in mercury pollution and global warming.

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ACTIVIST REPORT OFFERS FIRST-TIME COMPARISON OF MULTI-POLLUTANT BILLS

A high-profile study released by environmentalists earlier this month is the first analysis to compare the health impacts of three major multi-pollutant bills pending in Congress, likely providing ammunition to opponents of the Bush administration's Clear Skies initiative.

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ADVOCATES HAIL HEART ASSOCIATION LINK OF POLLUTION TO HEART DISEASE

The first-time acknowledgment by the American Heart Association (AHA) that air pollution is a serious cardiovascular risk is being applauded by environmental advocates who hope the scientific statement is only the beginning of AHA activism on the issue. They say the significance of a group such as AHA weighing in could boost efforts to require stringent reductions in air pollution and lead to even stricter clean air standards.

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NORTHEAST ATTORNEYS GENERAL DEMAND PRESIDENTIAL RESPONSE ON TVA

Seven Northeast attorneys general (AGs) are urging President Bush to immediately order the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to remedy alleged clean air permit violations by installing pollution control equipment, arguing that only the president has the authority to require such actions now that the challenge to the government utility by EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was lost in federal court and rejected for review by the Supreme Court.

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INDUSTRY DEALS MAY PRESSURE REGULATORS ON CLEAN-COAL TECHNOLOGY

Environmentalists and industry officials say two recent industry agreements on advanced coal gasification technology may pressure regulators to embrace the technology as an alternative to traditional coal-fired power generation.

Environmentalists say the agreements could bolster their pleas that air quality regulators and utility commissions must consider requiring the technology -- integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology -- while some industry officials say the agreements could make it easier for banks and utilities to back the emerging technology.

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REFINERS URGE CONGRESS TO LESSEN IMPACT OF EPA'S OZONE RULES

The refining industry has suggested that Congress pass legislation either delaying implementation of EPA's stricter ozone standard or ensuring that regulators can take into account air quality benefits of other upcoming regulations when developing local pollution control plans, according to industry and congressional sources.

The industry proposal was developed in preparation for a scheduled House vote on stalled energy proposals, which was originally set for last week but at press time was delayed until June 15 because of memorial services for former President Ronald Reagan.

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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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