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Congress

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET PLANS ANTICIPATE CLIMATE CHANGE LEGISLATION

Separate budget resolutions drafted in the Senate and House include language that leaves the door open for consideration of clean-energy and climate change-related legislation, possibly including a cap-and-trade bill, that could have an impact on federal spending in fiscal year 2009 and beyond.

The budget blueprints also appear to place limits on such legislation by suggesting it should be designed to be deficit neutral by offsetting costs with other revenue generating measures.

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SENATE CLIMATE BILL FACES HURDLE IN EMERGING BOXER-INDUSTRY STANDOFF

Final Senate approval of climate change legislation this year appears in doubt as a major coalition of industry groups has mounted a campaign to significantly weaken the bill and Senate environment committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has said she would pull the legislation until 2009 if she is unable to block such proposed revisions. The emerging standoff comes as the Senate is preparing for floor debate this spring on legislation sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) that would establish a national cap-and-trade program.

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KEY HOUSE DEMOCRAT TIES MAJOR CO2 CUTS FOR COAL TO STORAGE AVAILABILITY

A key House subcommittee chairman is suggesting upcoming cap-and-trade legislation will not impose strict emission requirements on coal-fired generators until roughly 2025, when carbon capture and storage options are likely to be widely available.

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BROAD REQUIREMENTS COULD DOOM CHEMICAL SECURITY BILL, GOP WARNS

House Republicans are raising concerns that the Homeland Security Committee's failure to limit in draft legislation the application of new chemical security standards to only those industrial facilities that pose the highest risk will doom the bill's prospects in other committees claiming jurisdiction.

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SENATE BUDGET PLAN COULD LIMIT EPA-DOE TENSIONS OVER CLEANUPS

The Senate Budget Committee last week proposed to increase funding for the Department of Energy's (DOE) waste cleanup program's budget in fiscal year 2009 -- a move that, if enacted, could ensure the department meets legally binding cleanup milestones, which EPA and others are concerned DOE would miss as a result of budget cuts.

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WAXMAN PUSHES JOHNSON TO DISCUSS WHITE HOUSE ROLE IN GHG POLICY DELAY

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, is warning EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson that he may be violating legal requirements by delaying greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. In a March 12 letter, Waxman calls on Johnson to help determine what role the White House and the Department of Transportation (DOT) may have played in the delay.

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SOUTH COAST EYES FEDERAL BILL TO SPEED LOCOMOTIVE EMISSION CUTS

The South Coast air district is urging Rep. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) to introduce federal legislation to require locomotives to use cleaner engines in southern California sooner than what would be required elsewhere in the country under upcoming U.S. EPA regulations. The district argues railroads must be required to phase-in the use of cleaner engines sooner in the region to help the district meet federal ozone and particulate matter (PM) standards.

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House Democrats Step Back On Support For Bill Expanding Water Act Scope

Key Democratic backers of a controversial House bill that would extend the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to all waters in the nation appear now to be voicing dissent over the legislation in response to industry and agriculture sector fears that it could impose EPA regulations on waters previously beyond the agency's reach.

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As House Effort Stalls, California Eyes Bid To Strengthen Wetlands Law

California water regulators are poised to consider a plan to strengthen state laws for protecting wetlands and riparian areas after a series of Supreme Court rulings that state regulators say weakened the Clean Water Act and makes it difficult for the state to comply with state policy intended to ensure no net loss of wetlands.

The move comes as House Democrats are struggling to move legislation they say is needed to expand the scope of the water act in response to the high court's rulings (see related story).

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EPA Draws Second Subpoena Over GHG Waiver Denial Documents

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, has issued a subpoena to compel EPA to submit unredacted copies of documents related to the agency's decision to deny California a waiver to implement greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations on vehicles.

The legal request ups the ante in a high-stakes standoff between EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and congressional Democrats over the waiver denial.

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