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Air

EPA MODELING CITES BENEFITS OF MERCURY TRADING IN INTERSTATE AIR RULE

EPA will soon unveil long-awaited modeling data on the combined impact of the administration's controversial mercury emissions plan and the "co-benefits" resulting from the agency's rule on pollution transported across states, according to a top air program official.

High-level agency officials promised several months ago that EPA would conduct additional research on the mercury rule, but until now they have not elaborated on what that research might entail.

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FEDERAL, STATE OFFICIALS EYE REGULATORY IMPACTS OF CO2 STORAGE

Federal and state officials are beginning to consider the regulatory implications of storing carbon dioxide (CO2) underground to address global warming, with EPA forming a new workgroup on the issue and energy-producing states developing recommendations on potential state regulatory changes, according to government sources.

Although research on sequestering CO2 is at an early stage, government-sponsored projects are moving toward injecting small quantities of CO2 underground to study its effects and scientists' ability to track the materials, federal officials say.

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ACTIVISTS SAY SENATORS' REMARKS SHOW MOMENTUM FOR CLIMATE BILL

Environmentalists say recent remarks by two Republican senators who had voted against legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions may show increasing support for such measures, after the lawmakers cited the need to address global warming while on a fact-finding trip to Norway on climate change.

"I voted against it, but I am more open to voting differently now," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the lawmakers on the trip, according to a translation of an Aug. 23 Norwegian press report. A call to Graham's office was not returned.

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KERRY COAL PLAN TARGETS KEY STATES, SEEKS CLIMATE CHANGE COMPROMISE

Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) campaign proposal to boost clean coal is seeking to convey a more activist position on climate change than President Bush, while simultaneously assuring coal states that Kerry would favor low-emission coal technologies and only modest regulatory measures to curb global warming, environmentalists and industry observers say.

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GROUPS ASK DOI TO INTERVENE ON BEHALF OF NATIONAL PARK'S AIR QUALITY

Environmentalists and an outdoor recreation group have filed an unusual petition with the Department of the Interior (DOI) in an attempt to force EPA and the state of Colorado to reduce air pollution at one of the nation's most popular outdoor attractions, Rocky Mountain National Park. Demanding a variety of federal and state regulatory actions, the groups are also criticizing a voluntary plan to reduce ozone in the Denver area as insufficient to protect the park.

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KEY SCIENTIFIC PANEL'S NSR REVIEW HAMPERED BY LACK OF HARD DATA

A key scientific panel is struggling to gather quantitative data detailing the new source review (NSR) air permitting program's impacts on the electric utility industry, causing frustration just weeks before the panel begins to develop preliminary conclusions about how the controversial NSR reforms are affecting air quality and public health, sources say.

"There has not been a lot of effort to collect and analyze the kind of data [the committee is] looking for," a source close to the study says.

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NRDC BLASTS EPA'S BUILDING CODE COMPARISON WITH NSR COST THRESHOLD

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is taking issue with EPA's justification of its cost-based threshold to exclude facility upgrades from new source review (NSR) requirements, after the agency compared its threshold to similar approaches used in building codes. A source with the group also claims the comparison between EPA's 20 percent cost exclusion and exceptions from building codes for remodeling work was designed as an after-the-fact way for industry to help the agency win its court fight over the rule.

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Petroleum Industry Seeks EPA Help To Meet Upcoming Clean-Diesel Standard

Petroleum industry groups are engaged in discussions with EPA about overcoming what the groups say are technical obstacles to transporting fuel that complies with an upcoming standard for cleaner burning highway diesel fuel. Sources say the industry may urge EPA to offer incentives or use its enforcement discretion if fuel suppliers fall short of the new requirements.

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Environmentalists Say Utility Proposal Will Boost Calls For Coal-Gasification Plants

Environmentalists say a pledge by American Electric Power (AEP) that it will build at least one coal gasification power plant within the next decade may provide critics of proposed traditional coal-fired plants ammunition in pressing regulators to require the utility industry to consider the newer technology. An August announcement by the company suggested the cost of building gasification projects could be less than the estimated costs of one such plan rejected last year by Wisconsin regulators on cost grounds, one environmentalist says.

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States Say Short Comment Period Hurt Study Of Air Rule's Modeling Changes

States are continuing to criticize EPA for allegedly providing inadequate time to review and comment on new modeling techniques for the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which addresses transported air pollution.

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