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EPA Offers States Options For Cutting Water Program Costs

Knowing that states face increased budget constraints, EPA water officials are offering states a suite of ideas for making water programs less costly, including new permit streamlining and greater use of statistical sampling in water quality monitoring.

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Bipartisan Senate Push Seeks To Restore Bush Proposed Water Funding Cuts

The Bush administration faces a bipartisan push in the Senate to restore proposed funding cuts for EPA water quality state grants, while Democrats are calling for an increase in funds for Superfund and environmental enforcement. The efforts come as the Senate is poised to consider a non-binding congressional blueprint for fiscal year 2004, and may foreshadow budget battles in the upcoming months as Congress works to complete appropriations legislation by this fall.

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Senate Budget Chairman Sets Stage For Renewed Showdown Over ANWR Drilling

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-OK) has included revenue estimates from opening up a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration in a pending fiscal year 2004 budget resolution, setting the stage for a contentious congressional debate that helped kill comprehensive energy legislation last year.

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Industry Fears States Will Use Resource Damage Claims To Offset Budget Woes

The recent expanded effort by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to investigate and enforce claims of natural resource damage (NRD) is raising industry fears that states may seek to use the controversial claims to offset state environmental budgets cuts resulting from a nationwide plague of deficits.

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House Lawmakers Pledge Restoration Of FY04 Brownfields Funding Cuts

House lawmakers are pledging to reinstate cuts to federal brownfields funding by appropriating $25 million in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) grant program that the Bush administration cut in its fiscal year 2004 budget. This effort comes as congressional lawmakers are promoting legislation to ease municipal governments' ability to access the funds.

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Dispute With Congress May Prompt EPA To Revisit Long-Term Water Funding Strategy

EPA's top water official is warning that a plan by lawmakers to boost short-term funding for wastewater treatment could undermine the administration's long-term commitment to extend the state revolving loan fund (SRF) program.

Tracy Mehan, assistant administrator for water, told Inside EPA Feb. 27 that if Congress adds $350 million to the administration's fiscal year 2004 funding request for the program, then the program's proposed extension "would be revisited" by the administration. Mehan says the controversy may lead EPA to drop the overall plan.

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States Weigh Returning Key Water Act Authority To EPA

State officials say budget cuts are forcing them to seriously consider returning authority over federally delegated water programs to EPA, including such resource-intensive programs as Clean Water Act discharge permits and programs regulating underground injection controls (UIC).

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States Say Budget Woes Exacerbate 'Brain Drain'


State water officials say they are grappling with how to handle the anticipated departure of experienced state and federal environmental and management staff that are expected to leave public service in record numbers over the next five years. Sources say the departures will likely create enormous challenges in implementing water quality programs that are already beleaguered by severe state and federal budget cuts.

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States Weigh Returning Authority Of Key Water Permit Programs To EPA

State officials say that budget cuts are forcing them to seriously consider returning authority over federally delegated water programs back to EPA, including such resource-intensive programs as Clean Water Act discharge permits, as well as programs regulating underground injection controls (UIC).

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States Urge Federal Officials To Oversee Surplus Mercury Storage Scheme

State environment officials have released a long-awaited draft report that urges the federal government to fund and oversee surplus mercury supplies because states lack the resources and experience to safely store the mercury. The draft report argues that federal agencies, including the departments of Defense and Energy, already have experience storing and overseeing large supplies of mercury.

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