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Air

CALIFORNIA SENATE REJECTION OF AIR BOARD CHIEF POSES CHALLENGES

The California Senate's rejection of Cindy Tuck to continue as head of the state's air board has environmental and industry sources agreeing that the vacancy may create a leadership vacuum at a time when the board will be considering important standards that may be models for other states, including greenhouse gas controls and diesel engine requirements. The Senate move also presents the governor with a major challenge to quickly find a replacement, these sources say.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS CITE GREENHOUSE GASES IN OPPOSING LNG IMPORTS

A California coalition of environmentalists opposed to liquefied natural gas (LNG) is citing greenhouse gas concerns in a lawsuit challenging the state utility commission's long-term plan to boost natural gas supplies through increased imports of LNG.

The argument raises an unusual claim in a case that has attracted national attention as the Bush administration, as well as California, promotes an expansion of LNG processing capabilities as a way to address rising demand for natural gas.

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EPA PROPOSES AMENDMENTS TO TOXICS RULE FOR IRON, STEEL PLANTS

EPA has proposed amending the maximum achievable control technology rule for iron and steel manufacturing to address concerns the industry has raised over the final rule.

An agency source says the revisions would actually subject more facilities to the rule, but without requiring them to undertake new emissions controls.

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INDUSTRY GROUPS PREPARE TO SUE EPA OVER REGIONAL HAZE RULE

Industry groups that represent coal producers and utilities are preparing to sue EPA over its recently finalized rule that seeks to limit regional haze, arguing it is too stringent and allows states to regulate facilities that are not proven contributors to haze.

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AIR DISTRICT AGREES TO RECONSIDER EXPENSIVE CONTROLS AT WINERIES

The San Joaquin Valley air district, home to some of California's largest wineries, has agreed to consider less expensive ways to reduce ozone-forming emissions at the vineyards than those outlined in a draft rule, which could have set a national precedent requiring each fermenter to be retrofitted with expensive control devices.

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EPA QUIETLY ISSUES STATE GUIDANCE FOR MAJOR OVERHAUL OF VOC POLICY

EPA has quietly unveiled a long-planned change to its policy for regulating volatile organic compounds (VOCs), issuing an interim guidance that allows states to set the stringency of new rules on a sliding scale based on the compound's reactivity.

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AUTOMATED TESTS COULD EASE STATE IMPLEMENTATION OF I/M PROGRAMS

CHICAGO -- Oregon air officials are pursuing ways to conduct automated vehicle inspection/maintenance (I/M) programs that do not require inspectors, in a move that other states could use as a way to make these tests more politically viable and less expensive.

Many states acknowledge that I/M programs are among the most effective ways to reduce air pollution to meet EPA's strict new 8-hour ozone standard. Yet the mandate is hugely unpopular with the public, and imposes resource burdens on states that have to test large numbers of registered vehicles.

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STUDIES BACK CALLS FOR MORE REGULATION OF POLLUTION NEAR HIGHWAYS

New scientific evidence linking traffic pollutants to human health risks may lend weight to activists' claims that EPA should more strictly regulate highway emissions, air pollution scientists say.

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ARMY EYES GASIFIED COAL TECHNOLOGY TO LOWER POWER PLANT EMISSIONS

Army installations officials are considering retrofitting seven aging coal-fired power plants with a new technology that produces power from cleaner-burning gasified coal -- a move that could provide a major boost to the nascent gasification industry and keep the Army in line with EPA emissions rules, Army officials and activists say.

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BIPARTISAN PANEL LAUNCHES NEW TALKS ON GREENHOUSE GAS PROGRAM

A bipartisan commission is convening a new round of discussions about designing a possible greenhouse gas reduction program, after Senate lawmakers cited uncertainties in how to craft such a plan as one reason for excluding greenhouse gas controls from the recently enacted comprehensive energy law.

An agenda sent to participants by the group, known as the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP), says the talks are not intended to forge a consensus, but to encourage "substantive discussion" between a wide variety of groups on the nature of the possible program.

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