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Air

STEVENS' ROLE AS PANEL CHAIR SUGGESTS NEW FOCUS FOR CLIMATE DEBATE

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' (R) likely ascension to chairman of the commerce committee could change the focus of the Senate's debate on climate change -- with Stevens focusing more on mitigating climate impacts in Alaska and elsewhere and less on outgoing chairman Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) bill regulating greenhouse gas emissions, Senate sources say.

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ANALYSIS SHOWS COAL PLANTS PROFITABLE DESPITE ENVIRONMENTAL RULES

A new analysis by an international consulting firm finds that future environmental requirements -- including many possible policies for curbing greenhouse gases -- are unlikely to erode the competitiveness of most coal-fired power plants and could even make many facilities more competitive as they install pollution controls.

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STATE GROUP EYES NEXT MOVE AFTER AVIATION EMISSIONS TALKS COLLAPSE

State and local air pollution regulators are examining their legal and regulatory options for reducing emissions from airports over the next several years after the collapse of long-running talks facilitated by EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aimed at developing emissions reduction strategies for the aviation sector, according to an association representing the state and local officials.

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EPA ARGUES COURT LACKS JURISDICTION IN ONGOING MERCURY LAWSUIT

EPA claims a lawsuit calling for the agency to implement strict mercury rules for power plants must be dismissed because the court hearing the case does not have jurisdiction to decide it.

EPA's Nov. 18 response to the court is the latest development in a lawsuit brought by the National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League of America and the Natural Resources Council of Maine alleging that EPA exceeded statutory deadlines for issuing stringent power plant mercury regulations.

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NORTH CAROLINA LIKELY TO SUE TVA AS ACTIVIST CASE MOVES AHEAD

North Carolina's attorney general is planning to sue the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for alleged violations of EPA's new source review (NSR) regulations, in a move that could add weight to an already-pending lawsuit that citizens groups filed against the utility.

At the same time, North Carolina is threatening to sue EPA for failing to respond to its petition filed under the Clean Air Act to control upwind pollution.

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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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