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Budget

Deficit May Aid Push By Environmentalists, Lawmakers To Cut Industry Subsidies

Soaring federal budget deficits may help environmentalists and their congressional allies curtail new subsidies for industry and funding for environmentally harmful construction projects, as concern about the expense and environmental danger of these programs appears to have gained traction following bipartisan efforts to stall the energy bill, according to environmentalists and balanced-budget advocates.

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Staff Fear Key Vacancies May Delay EPA Policies, Hinder Budget Efforts

EPA career officials say the Bush administration is unlikely to fill key political vacancies in the agency's water, toxics and enforcement offices before the elections and may delay some decisions and limit funding for some programs.

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EPA Inspector General Says Funding Gap Stalled Superfund Cleanups

A new report by EPA's inspector general (IG) says insufficient funding for the Superfund program in fiscal year 2003 constrained investigations of waste sites and prevented the agency from performing necessary emergency removal actions.

However, EPA and industry sources are challenging the report's methodology and say funding was adequate to take protective actions at sites.

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Administration Talks On Revised Dioxin Review Prompt EPA Budget Fears

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Bush administration are renegotiating a plan to review EPA's dioxin risk study after NAS officials late last year rejected an interagency plan for a broad, year-long review of the dioxin study. NAS officials say the earlier proposed review was under-funded and too broad to complete in the proposed timeframe.

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Senate Vote Sets Stage For EPA Funding Increases In FY04 Budget

The likely Senate approval of comprehensive fiscal year 2004 spending legislation as soon as this week would preserve hundreds of millions of dollars in increased spending for EPA's operating programs that would otherwise be lost, according to both congressional and agency sources.

While the Senate failed to pass the measure Jan. 20, Capitol Hill sources say Senate passage now appears increasingly likely amid waning Democratic interest in blocking the measure. The House passed the legislation last year and President Bush has indicated he will sign the bill.

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States To Offer Grants To Promote Priorities In Federal Policymaking

The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), which represents the heads of state environment departments, has launched a new grants program that seeks to ensure that state priorities are recognized in the annual agreements they sign with EPA.

States often make environmental programs a priority in their annual planning documents but those priorities do not "see the light of day in the federal document," according to one state source. "That's the main complaint" with the state-EPA priority-setting and planning process, the source says.

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White House Reg Review Office Faces Budget Cut In Standoff With GOP Lawmaker

The White House regulatory review office's annual budget of approximately $7 million may face a cut of $1 million unless the office completes a cost analysis requested by a Republican lawmaker on the government's efforts to ensure services for non-English speaking people. The potential budget cut is the latest development in a long-stand face-off between the White House office and Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) over a Clinton-era requirement, and could affect EPA and other federal agency regulations that are reviewed by the office.

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Omnibus Appropriations Bill Cuts Wetlands Protections In USDA Program

The omnibus appropriations bill pending before Congress cuts protections for thousands of acres of agricultural wetlands under a major Agriculture Department (USDA) program, which a top EPA water official says provides landowners important financial incentives to preserve wetlands.

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Senate Measure Barring 'Senior Discount' Marks Defeat For OMB's Graham

Senate approval of a provision that would prevent EPA from using a controversial risk-benefit analysis method that places a lower value on senior citizens' lives marks the first time Congress has publicly rejected contentious regulatory reforms advocated by White House regulatory chief John Graham, EPA and other sources say.

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Omnibus Spending Bill Would Limit Revisions To Brownfields Grants

House appropriators have rejected efforts by the Senate to permanently expand the definition of who can receive brownfields grants by limiting the proposed eligibility revision to one year as part of an omnibus appropriations bill awaiting final congressional approval.

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