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Air

EPA LIKELY TO SEEK FULL APPELLATE REVIEW OF RARE AIR RULE 'VACATUR'

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say.

EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and potentially harming the environment, attorneys say.

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FACING ACTIVISTS' LAWSUIT, EPA TO ISSUE NEW RULES ON MOBILE SOURCE TOXICS

EPA plans next year to propose new controls on air toxic emissions from motor vehicles -- one of the largest sources of hazardous air pollutants in the country -- amid a lengthy court battle with environmentalists who claim the agency missed a self-imposed deadline to finalize rules this year.

Petroleum industry officials say they have not yet taken a position on such a rule, but raise concerns that it could be more difficult to control vehicle emissions following an expected phase-out of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

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STATES' STUDY ON MERCURY CONTROL BENEFITS MAY TIGHTEN EPA UTILITY RULE

A draft analysis conducted for northeast states on the benefits of mercury controls for power plants could pressure the Bush administration to tighten its proposed mercury rules because it increases the estimated health benefits of regulating mercury emissions over previous government and industry assessments, sources say.

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TOP BUSH AIR OFFICIAL SAYS OXYGENATE REQUIREMENT 'MAY NOT BE NEEDED'

The Bush Administration's top air official says a controversial oxygenated fuel requirement "may not be needed," adding that U.S. EPA is hoping comprehensive energy legislation would relieve states like New York and California from having to blend their gasoline with oxygenates, such as MTBE or ethanol. The statement fuels speculation that the administration is inclined to grant such waivers.

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RISK, ENFORCEMENT DEBATED IN ARB WOOD-PRODUCT FORMALDEHYDE RULE

Air board officials and industry representatives are continuing to debate enforcement issues and the risk assessment basis of an evolving control measure to reduce formaldehyde emissions from a variety of composite-wood products. The rule -- the first of its kind in the nation -- has potentially widespread impacts, including that it may be copied by other states looking to reduce indoor pollution. But it also threatens to hurt U.S. industry if enforcement is insufficient to target furniture and other products imported from overseas, industry officials say.

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FARMERS EXPECT SETTLEMENT TO EXEMPT MORE DAIRIES FROM SAN JOAQUIN RULE

Dairy industry representatives say they believe a lawsuit settlement reached this week with the San Joaquin Valley air district over new Clean Air Act permitting requirements for farms will exempt more existing and new dairies from permitting and future control measures. Industry officials expect new emission factors called for by the settlement that more accurately estimate current facility pollution levels will replace estimates now being used by the district that date back to the 1930s, sources said.

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WIDESPREAD OPPOSITION SEEN KILLING CPR PLAN TO ELIMINATE ARB

Following a California Performance Review (CPR) Commission meeting that featured strong resistance to a recommendation to eliminate the air board, several sources are predicting that the proposal will be off the table when the governor decides which concepts to pursue in his effort to streamline state government.

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STATE OFFICIALS PUSH FOR NEW EMISSION CREDIT TRADING PROGRAMS

Top state air officials and stakeholder groups are beginning a major push to develop novel emission reduction credit (ERC) trading programs, as credits become scarcer by the day, threatening the ability of businesses to locate and expand in nonattainment areas. Leaders of the effort are optimistic that breakthroughs can be achieved, especially because U.S. EPA Region IX has joined the effort and is signaling it is open to innovative proposals -- a position that has not existed in past ERC-generation efforts, sources said.

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Facing Suit, EPA To Impose New Controls On Emissions From Motor Vehicles

EPA plans next year to propose new controls on air toxic emissions from motor vehicles -- one of the largest sources of hazardous air pollutants in the country -- amid a lengthy court battle with environmentalists who claim the agency missed a self-imposed deadline to finalize rules this year.

Petroleum industry officials say they have not yet taken a position on such a rule, but raise concerns that it could be more difficult to control vehicle emissions following an expected phase-out of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

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States' Study On Benefits Of Mercury Controls May Tighten EPA Utility Rule

A draft analysis conducted for Northeast states on the benefits of mercury controls for power plants could pressure the Bush administration to tighten its proposed mercury rules because the analysis increases the estimated health benefits of regulating mercury emissions over previous government and industry assessments, sources say.

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