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Budget

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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EPA Audit Unlikely To Quell Congressional Concerns Over Agency Enforcement

EPA's inspector general released a highly anticipated audit that found the agency lacks the necessary information to identify resource needs, which could fuel concerns by some lawmakers about EPA's enforcement program.

A group of mostly Democratic lawmakers requested the audit after high-profile press reports cited deficiencies in EPA's criminal enforcement program.

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Groups' Split Over Water Tax Threatens Joint Lobbying Coalition's Membership

Long-standing differences between wastewater and drinking water groups over establishing a federal trust fund for water infrastructure needs are again emerging as a significant dispute, raising questions about the future membership of a joint lobbying coalition the groups created in 1999 to boost funding for water infrastructure projects.

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Senate Budget Panel Backs Rider Restricting State Air Quality Efforts

The Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to retain a contentious rider limiting states' ability to curb emissions from small engines as part of EPA's $8.18 billion spending bill for fiscal year 2004. The bill increases EPA spending by $552 million over the Bush administration's request and $105 million over FY03 EPA spending levels, according to a committee fact sheet.

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Senate Proposal Would Limit State Authority To Curb Small Engine Emissions

Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), the chairman of a subcommittee with jurisdiction over EPA's budget, has reportedly inserted language into the agency's spending bill being considered this week that would restrict the ability of California and other states to issue their own regulations curbing air pollution from small engines.

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