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Budget

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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Republicans Attach LNG Loan Guarantees To Omnibus Spending Bill

An omnibus appropriations bill that could be voted on by Congress next week includes a provision to provide federal subsidies for the construction of a natural gas pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities along the U.S. West Coast, in an effort to transport Alaskan natural gas to the lower 48 states. The provision was a last-minute addition to a massive spending bill unveiled last week after a similar proposal was rejected during Republican-led negotiations over comprehensive energy legislation, which has stalled in the Senate.

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Clean Air Exemption For Small Engines Stripped From EPA Spending Bill

House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to remove a provision from legislation appropriating funds for EPA that would have restricted the ability of California, and ultimately other states, to regulate air pollution from new gasoline engines under 50 horsepower. The provisions reportedly were dropped after a chorus of opposition from state officials and intervention from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

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Republicans Might Attach Energy Bill To Omnibus Spending Package If Filibuster Prevails

Senate Democrats say they expect Republicans to try to attach comprehensive energy legislation to an omnibus spending package if Democrats succeed in a possible threatened filibuster of the bill, Democratic sources say. A spokesman for the Senate energy committee denied that was the Republican strategy, but conceded it is a possibility.

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Democrats, Jeffords Plan NSR Amendments During Senate Appropriations Debate

Senate Democrats are intending to offer an amendment during debate over EPA spending for next year that would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement the Bush administration's revisions to the new source review program, which would ease emission control requirements for older power plants.

The Democrats, led by Charles Schumer (NY), are expected to either offer the amendment if the Senate resumes debate on a VA-HUD appropriations bill that includes EPA spending, or a broader omnibus appropriations bill that will combines three separate spending bills into one.

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Senate Plan To Restrict State Small-Engine Emission Rules Faces Possible House Opposition

The Senate's just-approved plan to restrict the ability of states to adopt tougher requirements than a new EPA regulation on small engine emissions may still face opposition from key House lawmakers when both chambers negotiate a final EPA spending bill for fiscal year 2004.

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State Budget Constraints Prompt EPA To Draft Post-Cleanup Superfund Strategy

EPA is developing a strategy to improve coordination with states on post-cleanup activities at Superfund sites because state budget shortfalls may force tough decisions on setting site-work priorities, according to agency officials.

Michael Cook, the director of EPA's Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, told attendees at an Oct. 24 meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) that the agency is finalizing a strategy for handling post-construction issues and will work with states to determine priorities for each site.

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States Develop Database On Permit Fees To Identify Potential Revenue Sources

State environment officials are developing a database on the amount of fees states charge for a range of environmental permits, as a growing number of states are looking to address budget constraints by increasing or instituting new permit fees.

The database is being compiled by the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) and will likely show increased state efforts to use fees to cover administrative and other costs of permit programs in the face of dwindling federal and state funds.

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