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Air

NEW STUDIES HEIGHTEN CONFLICT ON MERCURY CONTAMINATION, SOURCES

Environmentalists and the electric utility industry are pushing competing studies in the latest face-off over mercury pollution, with environmentalists lamenting widespread toxic mercury contamination in fish and the industry claiming power plants generate almost none of the mercury in the environment.

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ELECTION FEARS PROMPT EPA TO DELAY GUIDE ON MERCURY DISCHARGE PERMITS

EPA is delaying the release of a controversial draft guidance that critics say could allow states to avoid setting strict clean water permit limits for mercury over fears that Democrats and environmentalists will criticize the administration's mercury control efforts in an election year, several EPA sources say. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com.

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ARB WEIGHS MULTIPLE FACTORS TO DEFINE LARGE FARMS FOR REGULATION

Air board staff is embarking on a complicated effort to define large confined animal facilities (CAFs) for regulation under a controversial law passed last year that lifted a decades-old regulatory exemption for the facilities. Farm and dairy organizations that have expressed skepticism over initial formulas used to define large CAFs are closely following the air board approach because it will determine how many dairies will be regulated statewide.

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CPR CAL/EPA OVERHAUL VISION EXPECTED TO SPARK DEBATE, SOME BILLS

The California Performance Review (CPR) recommendations to eliminate Cal/EPA boards and convert all entities into divisions under an overarching department are expected to spark weighty discussion among officials and stakeholders, but very likely will not all come to fruition, sources said. A scenario may emerge where disparate interests will latch on to specific recommendations in the report, which could lead to pitched battles in the Legislature next year.

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Utility Commissioners Urge EPA To Revise Air Rule To Encourage Renewables

State utility regulators are urging EPA to revise its proposal for controlling air pollution that drifts over state boundaries, calling on the agency to support more emission credits to new power plants that use renewable and efficient sources of energy, such as wind and cogeneration facilities.

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Technology To Meet EPA NOx Rule May Pose Challenges For Utilities

A new emissions reduction technology known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) that utilities are effectively required to use in complying with nitrogen oxide (NOx) standards for the Eastern half of the country could create unintended air pollution. The problem surfaced last month when a major power company was forced to shut down some SCR units at an Indiana facility and could lead to greater emissions monitoring.

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SEC DOWNPLAYS CALL FOR PACT WITH EPA TO IMPROVE DISCLOSURE SCRUTINY

The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) appears to be resisting calls from congressional investigators to formalize a data-sharing agreement with EPA to improve its oversight of corporate environmental disclosure, according to EPA and SEC officials.

A top EPA enforcement official says SEC scrutiny of corporate environmental disclosures is not a top priority for commission officials. SEC officials also told Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators that they see no need to improve the current data-sharing regime.

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BUSH MAKES TWO EPA RECESS APPOINTMENTS IN FACE OF SENATE HOLDS

President Bush installed two EPA political appointees during last month's congressional recess, using a constitutional procedure allowing the White House to bypass a pending Senate hold on two of four EPA nominees whose consideration is being blocked.

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INDUSTRY ATTACK ON STATE AIR RULE TESTS REACH OF OMB PEER REVIEW GUIDE

Industry has launched a groundbreaking test of whether third parties can successfully request new federal peer reviews under a controversial White House guidance, calling for EPA to initiate review of state ozone pollution control plans that industry believes are based on inaccurate data.

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EPA DECISION TO LIMIT TRI DATA REVISIONS SPARKS INDUSTRY CONCERN

EPA's decision to restrict industry's ability to revise data that has been submitted to the agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) has prompted industry claims that EPA will release flawed information that could undermine the reliability and credibility of the program.

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