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Air

EPA TO BACK INDUSTRY TECHNOLOGY FOR LESS FREQUENT AIR MONITORING

EPA plans to allow industry to use an air emissions monitoring technology that will dramatically reduce the frequency that facilities will have to test for pollution releases. The upcoming recommendation stems from an agreement between EPA and the utility industry on overhauling the agency's air quality monitoring program.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS WARN AGAINST REDUCING AIR POLLUTION MONITORS

The National Park Service (NPS) will likely have to reduce the amount of monitoring it conducts at some of its sites due to budget cuts, a move that environmentalists say could have serious implications for the park service's ability to assess the air quality impacts of dozens of planned new power plants near the parks.

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CALPERS MAY LOOK FOR AUTOMAKER CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN GHG DISPUTE

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is threatening to probe major auto company directors for potential conflicts of interest if the companies do not sufficiently respond to their questions about the industry's lawsuit against the state air board's greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation. The pension fund board may also seek the inclusion of other major investor groups against the auto companies, pursue "proxy battles," and file an amicus brief defending the state in the lawsuit.

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OREGON'S CARBON TRADING PLAN NEEDED SOONER, ENVIRONMENTALISTS SAY

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) has signed off on the state's first-time plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but environmentalists are calling for the effort to begin at least two years earlier than scheduled.

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EPA ADVISORS ISSUE CALL TO STUDY CO2 'CO-BENEFITS' OF EMISSIONS CUTS

An EPA advisory committee's new air quality report includes a surprise recommendation for the agency to help states evaluate reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that may be achieved under rules primarily intended to curb pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter.

The committee added the recommendation to a comprehensive report that calls for major changes in the way EPA regulates air quality. Members of the committee note the report has ambitious goals, but acknowledge that implementing them will require substantial funding.

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EPA, DOE EYE STUDY ON BENEFITS OF COAL GASIFICATION POWER PLANTS

EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) are launching a new study on the environmental impacts of generating electricity with a clean-coal technology known as integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), including the effect of air pollution. The study could boost federal and state efforts to encourage use of the technology in environmental permits or legislation, according to EPA and industry sources.

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CALIFORNIA POWER REGULATORS APPROVE GROUNDBREAKING CO2 MANDATE

California utility regulators are requiring power companies to take the costs of greenhouse gas emissions into account when making long-term energy purchases, in a move that environmentalists say may discourage the use of coal generation in favor of cleaner forms of energy.

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted the new mandate Dec. 16 as part of its approval of long-term energy procurement plans for three major utilities in the state. Two of the utilities are supporting the new greenhouse gas mandate, while a third is opposing it.

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EPA EYES MAJOR REVISIONS TO PSD PROGRAM IN UPCOMING PROPOSAL

EPA is considering revamping the way it sets pollution limits in its prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit program for national parks and other pristine areas. In an upcoming proposal due early next year, the agency may change its traditional approach from one that allows new and modified sources to incrementally increase pollution, to a policy that would essentially set a fixed cap defining how much total pollution an area can sustain before negative impacts are felt.

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BAUCUS COULD PLAY KEY ROLE IN SENATE PANEL'S CLEAR SKIES DEBATE

Senate Republicans' ability to pass President Bush's Clear Skies bill out of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee by next March could rest on Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who has recently sided with Republicans on key environmental bills but has been hesitant to endorse the president's utility pollution plan.

Baucus could be the critical swing voter now that Republicans have increased their current one-seat advantage on the panel to two seats, after the GOP strengthened its control of the chamber in the November elections.

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SENATE GOP TO ALLOW STATES TO GO BEYOND FEDERAL RULES IN CLEAR SKIES

Senate Republicans will include new language in the Clear Skies bill they are planning to re-introduce in January to allow states to require more stringent emission reductions than the pollution caps to be imposed by the federal government, sources say.

The change appears aimed at broadening support for the long-stalled bill, which Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, has vowed to make a top priority in early 2005.

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