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Air

COLORADO ENVIRONMENT CHIEF GIVES UNUSUAL SUPPORT TO KEY BUSH PLANS

Colorado environment chief Doug Benevento has won notoriety among fellow state officials for being the lone state environment commissioner to endorse now-stalled Defense Department (DOD) legislation seeking exemptions from environmental laws.

Benevento's maverick support for the bill -- a key Bush administration legislative proposal -- reflects his broader efforts to embrace other White House priorities, including its new source review reforms, which Colorado has moved to adopt, and flexible environmental compliance programs like environmental management systems (EMSs).

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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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ACTIVISTS PRESS RENEWABLE SOURCE PLAN FOR 'HYDROGEN HIGHWAYS'

Environmentalists involved in Cal/EPA's "Hydrogen Highways" initiative will press officials to craft a strategy to increase the amount of hydrogen tapped from renewable energy sources in carrying out the expected transportation energy transition, in an effort to ensure environmental benefits. While natural gas is a decent starting point, environmentalists say that upping the amount of hydrogen from geothermal, biomass and solar sources is crucial to making the campaign a bona fide success in improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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SENATE APPROVES OPENING CARPOOL LANES TO HYBRID VEHICLES

Despite a late lobbying push by the Ford Motor Co., the Senate this week easily approved a measure that will allow some hybrid vehicle drivers to access the state's "carpool lanes" even when driving alone. The legislation is intended to encourage the purchase of the ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ford's lobbying effort appeared to have little effect on slowing the bill with one Republican senator calling the company's chairman a "billionaire crybaby," and accusing him of "unmitigated gall."

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INDUSTRIES URGE ARB TO TONE DOWN INDOOR POLLUTION REPORT

Industry groups are pressing air board staff to tone down key elements of a draft indoor air pollution report, arguing that cancer-risk estimates and general negativity contained in the report toward a variety of home products and building materials are misleading, will likely alarm the public and could lead to unnecessary regulations. One of industry's primary fears is that lawmakers -- who requested the report in 2002 legislation -- will focus on the negative aspects of the report to justify bills next year mandating indoor exposure standards and new product emission limits.

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LATE POLITICAL MOVES CLOUD GOVERNOR'S SOLAR HOMES INITIATIVE

With only days left in the legislative session, the fate of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's solar energy initiative is uncertain with the bill getting mixed up in the politics surrounding the Assembly speaker's controversial electricity restructuring bill. The speaker is backing an alternative solar energy bill, recently introduced in the Assembly, in an apparent attempt to pressure Schwarzenegger to support his sweeping electricity restructuring legislation, which the governor has indicated he intends to veto.

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AGREEMENT ON FUNDING AIR QUALITY PROGRAMS MAY FACE TAX CHALLENGE

A broad coalition of government officials, industry and environmentalists has reached consensus on an initiative that would generate about $90 million a year to fund a variety of air quality programs. But questions are being raised over whether the new fees contained in the proposal are taxes that require a super-majority vote in the Legislature, an argument that opponents may make in challenging the initiative if it is signed into law.

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Pact With Oil Company May Help EPA Develop Guide On 'Upset' Emissions

EPA and the petrochemical company Flint Hills Resources (FHR) have agreed to cooperate on development and evaluation of strategies for curtailing so-called "upset" emissions, in what agency and company sources say could lead to guidance to minimize such emissions from petroleum refineries and other industrial facilities.

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California Port Pollution Bill Seen As Environmental Test For Schwarzenegger

The California Legislature's just-passed bill that seeks to freeze air emissions from two ports presents Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) with a stark choice between siding with environmentalists who support the measure, or a long list of business groups that oppose it.

Some Schwarzenegger administration officials have voiced opposition to the bill, but sources say the governor has not yet indicated his stance on the legislation.

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California Legislature Approves Carpool Lane Incentives For Hybrids

Despite a late lobbying push by the Ford Motor Co., the California legislature approved a measure that will allow some hybrid vehicle drivers to access the state's "carpool lanes," even when driving alone, as an incentive to purchase ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ford's lobbying effort fell short of stopping the bill with one Republican senator calling the company's chairman a "billionaire crybaby," and accusing him of "unmitigated gall."

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