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Budget

EPA May Adopt Spending Reforms To Allow More Superfund Cleanups

EPA's Superfund office is planning to implement a series of recommendations to free up funds to start as many as 10 new waste cleanups in fiscal year 2006, which could include redirecting contract oversight money and distributing excess funds from site-specific cleanup accounts, an agency official says.

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Temporary Funding Bill Allows Time To Settle Yucca Nuclear Waste Dispute

Congressional approval of temporary funding for the federal government puts off for at least a month resolution of a budget dispute over the development of a nuclear waste disposal facility at Yucca Mountain, including a controversial proposal to impose a surcharge on the nuclear power industry.

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Key GOP Senator Rejects EPA Concerns In Push For CAFOs Exemption

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) is proceeding with legislative attempts to exempt concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from environmental reporting requirements, despite EPA concerns the push could hamper agency efforts to obtain additional data on CAFO emissions, a Craig staffer says.

"We're moving ahead," the source says. Craig, who is the fourth most senior Republican in Senate, is planning to push the reporting exclusions as a floor amendment to the VA-HUD appropriations bill that funds EPA.

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Battle To Reform Mine-Cleanup Fund Delayed After Senate Extension

Competing efforts between Eastern and Western lawmakers to reform an abandoned coal mine cleanup program will likely be delayed until next Congress after lawmakers recently agreed to a nine-month extension of the program.

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IG CRITICIZES EPA'S MANAGEMENT OF SUPERFUND ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS

EPA's Inspector General (IG) is criticizing the agency's management of administrative costs of the Superfund program. But an agency source says that it is a decrease in the agency's buying power, and not an increase in administrative costs, that is the reason for any downturn in the number of sites addressed under Superfund.

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EPA NIXES REGIONAL CALL TO RETURN SUPERFUND STAFF FROM OTHER OFFICES

EPA has rejected a call from its regional offices to return Superfund staff who conduct Superfund-related work for other programs, according to an EPA source familiar with meetings on the issue. The source says there are more Superfund staff in other offices than the waste cleanup program itself.

A high-level EPA waste official declined to comment on the regional request, saying, "That whole discussion took place as part of the [fiscal year] '06 budget discussions. That was the context in which it played out."

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EPA SEEKS TO HEAD OFF FY06 HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING SHORTFALL

EPA is looking to prevent possible homeland security funding shortfalls in its fiscal year 2006 budget, asking the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for at least 25 percent more money than agency projections from earlier this year showed EPA was likely to receive, according to budget documents obtained by Inside Washington Publishers.

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DOUBTS REMAIN ON EPA FY05 SPENDING LEVELS, DESPITE SENATE BUDGET BOOST

Uncertainty about the congressional schedule and major cuts pending in the House version of EPA's funding bill have observers doubting that the agency's fiscal year 2005 budget will include the more than $700 million boost above the administration's request that Senate appropriators approved last week, including a major boost for Superfund.

"It looks like EPA did well [in the Senate VA-HUD bill]," an agency official says. "We would love to be able to sustain the Senate level. . . . but history tells us it probably won't happen."

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DOUBTS REMAIN ABOUT EPA FY05 SPENDING, DESPITE SENATE BUDGET BOOST

Uncertainty about the congressional schedule and major cuts pending in the House version of EPA's funding bill have observers doubting that the agency's fiscal year 2005 budget will include the more than $700 million boost above the administration's request that Senate appropriators approved this week.

"It looks like EPA did well [in the Senate VA-HUD bill]," an agency official says. "We would love to be able to sustain the Senate level. . . but history tells us it probably won't happen."

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DEMOCRATS EYE BUDGET 'RIDER' FOR EPA STUDY ON MERCURY RULE

Congressional Democrats are considering plans to attach a legislative rider to EPA's upcoming budget bill that would force the agency to study alternatives to its controversial mercury emissions plan, after top officials have so far declined to move forward on this research.

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