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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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Despite Whitman Pledge, Congress Slashes FY03 Brownfields Funds

Congressional conferees negotiating the final version of the omnibus spending measure for fiscal year 2003 have slashed funding for EPA's brownfields grants programs by 25 percent, dealing a blow to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who last year maintained that the program would be fully funded at the level of the administration's request for FY03.

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Waste Office Drafts Method To Gauge Emergency Response Readiness

EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) is developing a new performance-based approach to assess its emergency response readiness and homeland security capabilities. The new measure is one of several the agency is crafting following a critical review by the White House's Office of Management & Budget (OMB) that concluded OSWER has failed to demonstrate environmental and public health benefits from some of its waste cleanup programs.

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Lawmakers Amend Spending Rider To Require NAS, Not EPA, To Conduct State Air Study

Lawmakers debating the fiscal year 2003 federal spending bill have revised a number of EPA riders in the bill, including shifting responsibility from EPA to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for a contentious study of the procedures states use to develop emissions standards that differ from federal regulations, sources say.

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Obey Plans Last-Ditch Bid To Cut Riders, Raise EPA Spending In FY03 Bill

Rep. David Obey (WI), lead Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, is considering a last-ditch effort to remove several riders from EPA's spending bill for fiscal year 2003 that state officials and environmentalists say are environmentally damaging, congressional sources and environmentalists say. Obey and other Democrats will also try to convince Congress to raise EPA spending to levels agreed to by the House last year, the sources say.

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EPA Touts Trading, Permitting Plans To Fill Water Funding Gaps

EPA water chief Tracy Mehan says new tools such as EPA's water trading policy and watershed-based permitting plan, coupled with longstanding goals like improved asset management, will be needed to meet major water infrastructure funding needs in the absence of massive new federal funds. Mehan offered the multi-tiered approach at an EPA-convened water infrastructure forum Jan. 31.

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Drinking Water Panel Set To Back Low Income Subsidies In New Report

A panel of a federal drinking water advisory committee will soon recommend new steps to shield low-income households from water rate hikes that government and water system official agree are needed to meet major treatment and infrastructure costs in coming years, according to panel sources.

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