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Air

NAFTA PROBE OF MERCURY RULE MAY HELP POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTALIST SUIT

A request by environmentalists for a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel to investigate whether EPA's plan to regulate power plants air emissions fails to adequately enforce the Clean Water Act could provide the activists with information for future litigation against the agency's controversial mercury proposal, an environmentalist attorney tracking the issue says.

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SENATE STAFF EYE TAX BILL AS NEW VEHICLE TO RENEW WIND ENERGY CREDITS

Democratic and Republican staff in the Senate say renewal of a wind energy tax credit could be approved as part of catch-all tax code extension legislation if Congress fails to adopt comprehensive energy legislation or an export tax reform bill that both include the wind provisions.

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DEMOCRATS EYE BUDGET 'RIDER' FOR EPA STUDY ON MERCURY RULE

Congressional Democrats are considering plans to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to study alternatives to its controversial mercury emissions plan, after top officials have so far declined to move forward on this research.

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GROUPS EYE FIRST-TIME DATA QUALITY LANGUAGE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES BILL

Conservative and environmental groups are closely watching a House bill that would amend the Endangered Species Act because it includes first-time language referencing the data quality act that would assure information disseminated by the government could be challenged in court, according to industry supporters of the language.

Opponents of the data requirements, including environmental groups, say if the existing data quality law is incorporated into an organic, overriding environmental statute, it will also effectively limit federal agencies' ability to craft the best policy.

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INDUSTRY EYES POSSIBLE FIXES TO EPA IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW OZONE RULE

Industry officials are preparing to ask EPA to make a series of fixes that would likely ease requirements for complying with the agency's strict new ozone standard, according to an internal industry e-mail.

A number of industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is considering filing an administrative petition with EPA that will ask the agency to make the suggested changes to its rule implementing the agency's 8-hour ozone standard, according to an e-mail that NAM sent to its members and was leaked by environmentalists.

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EPA GRANTS DETROIT'S 'BUMP-DOWN' REQUEST OVER ACTIVISTS' OBJECTIONS

EPA has granted a state request to ease ozone requirements for Detroit, MI, over environmentalists' objections that the request lacked any legal basis and that granting it would set a dangerous precedent for EPA's air program. The state used a novel method to assess air pollution levels by using rounding arithmetic to adjust a calculation of average ozone conditions.

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EPA INTERSTATE AIR RULE ADDS TO FEAR IGCC WILL BE LONE CLEAN COAL OPTION

Key utility industry sources are warning that the administration's pending plan to control interstate emissions is just another example of how the government seems to favor integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) above all other clean coal technologies, a policy position many coal-fired power plant engineers argue is too restrictive.

This criticism comes on the heels of a recent announcement that American Electric Power (AEP) plans to build the largest IGCC plant ever before the end of the decade. It also comes as both presidential candidates endorsed the technology.

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DECISION TO LOWER PM BENEFITS IN CAIR MAY AFFECT FUTURE AIR RULES

The Bush administration's decision to include a controversial analysis reducing the estimated benefits for controlling particulate matter (PM) in the agency's transport rule could prompt weaker requirements in future air regulations to limit PM -- including technology standards, mobile sources controls and other measures -- because they weaken agency arguments about the cost-effectiveness of these measures, EPA sources 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. The move comes amidst a lengthy court battle with environmentalists who argued the agency had missed a self-imposed deadline to develop final 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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INDUSTRY LOBBIES AGAINST POTENTIAL ILLINOIS POWER PLANT POLLUTION PLAN

The Illinois electric utility industry is seeking to stop the Illinois EPA (IEPA) from moving forward with power plant emission rules stricter than the federal government's, claiming that any such plan would put the state at a competitive disadvantage, cost jobs and severely threaten electricity reliability.

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