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Air

DOJ SUIT COULD SIGNAL BROADER USE OF AIR ACT'S CRIMINAL PENALTIES

The Justice Department's (DOJ) high-profile prosecution of a New Jersey pipe manufacturer for alleged criminal violations of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws could signal broader DOJ use of criminal prosecutions under the air law, industry and government attorneys say.

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SETTLEMENT PAVES WAY FOR USE OF 'EXPERIMENTAL' TECHNOLOGY IN PERMITS

Environmentalists have ended a legal challenge to an air permit for a Missouri cement plant, permitting the facility to set a possible precedent allowing industry more flexibility in its use of pollution controls. At the same time, EPA's objections to the permit still stand but the agency has tentatively decided not to overrule the state's decision, according to a source with EPA Region VII.

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STATES TO OUTLINE PROPOSAL FOR MAJOR AIR PERMIT PROGRAM CHANGES

Western state air officials will release initial recommendations in the next few weeks for changes to a major EPA air permitting program, in the wake of a high-profile controversy this spring over the proposed expansion of power plants located adjacent to a national park in North Dakota.

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NORTHEAST STATES WORRY OVER EPA GUIDE WAIVING SOME OZONE MANDATES

EPA's plan to continue waiving some nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction requirements as states transition to implementing the agency's new 8-hour ozone rule is reviving Northeast states' concerns about potential increases in ozone transported from upwind states obtaining the exemptions, state sources say.

EPA proposed in a Sept. 1 draft guidance -- which updates a 1993 guidance on ozone rule implementation -- to continue waiving NOx requirements under section 182(f) of the Clean Air Act in areas where lowering emissions can create local ozone increases, or "disbenefits."

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DELAY IN EPA VOC DECISION MAY HAMPER USE OF LESS-HARMFUL CHEMICAL

EPA's delay in exempting a chemical from regulation as a volatile organic compound (VOC) may postpone widespread use of the substance in a slew of ground-level ozone nonattainment areas -- even though EPA just approved it as an alternative to a chemical recently banned for depleting the stratospheric ozone layer, EPA and industry sources say.

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LAWSUIT ARGUES TEXAS IGNORED OLD OZONE RULE IN FAVOR OF NEW ONE

Environmentalists are suing EPA and charging the Dallas-Fort Worth area has failed to meet a long-standing requirement for cleaning up ozone pollution, while arguing the agency has muddied the waters by announcing it would revoke this rule during the transition to a new and stricter standard.

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CALL FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DATA QUALITY REFORMS SPARKS OPPOSITION

A former EPA attorney is suggesting that the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) require federal agencies to reference the Information Quality Act (IQA) in rulemaking preambles, effectively paving the way for certain data-based disputes to be challenged in federal court. The recommendation is already prompting protests from environmentalists.

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UTILITIES CITE FINANCIAL, OTHER OBSTACLES TO COMPLIANCE WITH CAIR

Officials with large investor-owned utilities that produce coal-fired power are urging EPA to delay by at least two years the initial 2010 deadline to reduce interstate air emissions, claiming that high costs, and the demands of retrofit technology, will prevent utilities from getting the job done in time. One utility official claims it will cost Southern Company alone at least $5 billion over the next 10 years to retrofit existing coal plants and, using that estimate, it could cost the entire industry over $15 billion.

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ILLINOIS DECISION NOT TO BACK STATE EMISSION RULES OUTRAGES ACTIVISTS

Environmentalists say they are shocked and angered by an Illinois EPA (IEPA) report concluding it would be "irresponsible" to move forward with state-specific requirements for electric utilities to reduce emissions, particularly because top state officials have long criticized EPA's approach to regulating these emissions as far too weak.

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DOE SCOPES UPCOMING ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR CO2 STORAGE PROJECTS

The Department of Energy (DOE) has outlined the potential environmental effects it will study as part of an upcoming environmental assessment of its efforts to develop methods for capture or store carbon dioxide (CO2) -- an assessment that could set precedents for environmental requirements governing research and other projects to combat or minimize global warming.

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