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Air

OPPONENTS MULL LEGAL CHALLENGE TO CALIFORNIA AIR QUALITY FEE BILL

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) reportedly intends to sign a landmark state measure creating dedicated funding for certain air quality programs through new fees, leading opponents to consider drafting an argument that the fees are actually illegal taxes.

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NCSL ENVIRONMENT PANEL CHIEF FACES OPPOSITION TO CLEAN AIR PLANS

State Del. Jim Hubbard (D-MD), the recently appointed chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures's (NCSL) environment committee, is facing tough industry opposition to his plans for the group to formally oppose the Bush administration's air quality initiatives.

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CARMAKERS EYE FEDERAL PUSH TO PREEMPT HYBRID CARPOOL LANE ACCESS

Automakers opposed to a mileage requirement in a bill just passed by the California legislature that opens carpool lanes to some single-occupant hybrid vehicles are preparing to lobby the federal government to preempt the state from enacting the law. California needs federal approval to move forward, though the government has shown little appetite to stop states from imposing similar requirements.

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GEORGIA SEEKS REFORMULATED GAS WAIVER FOR ATLANTA-AREA COUNTIES

Georgia is seeking an EPA waiver sparing 13 counties surrounding Atlanta from a requirement that will likely force them to use the gasoline additive ethanol in order to comply with federal clean-air standards. The mandate, which is scheduled to take effect in 2005, would cost millions of dollars to implement and leave the state using three separate fuel mixtures, also leading to supply and distribution problems, the state's environmental protection director wrote in a letter to EPA.

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STATES SAY SHORT COMMENT PERIOD HURT STUDY OF CAIR MODEL CHANGES

States are continuing to criticize EPA for providing what they say is 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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JUDGE QUESTIONS INDUSTRY ABILITY TO LEGALLY CHALLENGE DATA LAW

Litigation challenging the data that agencies use in making decisions appears to have suffered a setback as a federal judge questioned whether industry groups in a key case have standing to sue and suggested that the data quality law does not allow courts to review the information.

"I'm having trouble seeing [statutory] language that provides for judicial review" of data quality decisions, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said during Sept. 3 oral arguments in a case that industry sources are hoping will establish courts' rights to review agency data decisions.

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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 develop and evaluate 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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EPA WORKING WITH STATES, INDUSTRY TO IMPROVE EMISSIONS ESTIMATES

EPA has launched initiatives with industry and states to improve pollution estimates, known as emissions factors, which are often the basis for air permit limits but are widely criticized as inaccurate and outdated. But environmentalists are wary of EPA's effort to build "partnerships" with industry groups to promote research on improving the data in the absence of government funding. They are also skeptical about the agency's plan to develop rules or guidance for states on how to use emissions factors in permits.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SAY AEP PROPOSAL WILL BOOST COAL GASIFICATION

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 suggests the cost of building gasification projects could be less than the estimated cost of one such plan rejected last year by Wisconsin regulators on cost grounds, one environmentalist says.

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PETROLEUM INDUSTRY SEEKS EPA HELP IN MEETING DIESEL FUEL STANDARDS

Petroleum industry groups are engaged in discussion with EPA about how to meet huge technical obstacles to transporting clean fuel under a pending highway diesel standard, with sources saying they may urge EPA to offer incentives or use enforcement discretion if the industry falls short of the mark.

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