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Congress

STORAGE AMENDMENT CONSENSUS CLEARS PATH FOR KEY MERCURY BILL

State regulators, environmentalists and chemical and mining industry groups are collectively endorsing a House Democratic plan for the long-term storage of elemental mercury, removing a major hurdle standing in the way of House approval of a bill that would ban exports of the toxic substance.

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FOR NOW, DEMOCRATS TARGET SPECIFIC TOXICS RATHER THAN TSCA REFORM

Congressional Democrats appear to be focusing on addressing individual toxic substances and laying the ground for a more sweeping reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) some time in the future, despite suggestions when they took control of Congress that they may seek to overhaul the law and seek stringent new regulations similar to those adopted by the European Union (EU) on chemical reporting, sources close to the issue say.

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REVISED LANGUAGE IN ASBESTOS BAN BILL PROMPTS EXPOSURE CONCERNS

A little noticed but significant change to a Senate bill intended to force EPA to ban asbestos could allow industry to continue using materials capable of producing dangerous exposure levels to the known carcinogen and is prompting proponents of stricter legislation to lobby House members to adopt the Senate's original legislative language, several informed sources say.

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EPA WILL BEGIN FINAL REVIEW OF E-MANIFEST WASTE RULE, SEEKS LEGISLATION

EPA this week will begin the last stages of reviewing a final rule that would replace the current paper system for tracking waste shipments with a centralized electronic mechanism, although before the new program can be effectively implemented Congress must first pass legislation amending the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA).

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BUDGET STALEMATE MAY RESULT IN HUGE CUTS TO EPA FY08 FUNDING BILL

The escalating stalemate between Democrats in Congress and President Bush over fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills may ultimately force lawmakers to abandon their efforts to increase funding levels for EPA and other agencies above the president's request, according to congressional staffers. Because it is unlikely Democrats have the votes to override threatened vetoes, the longer the standoff continues the stronger Bush's hand is in rejecting any increase over his original request, these sources believe.

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PALLONE EYES BILL TO BOOST EPA AUTHORITY ON CHEMICAL SECURITY RULES

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is drafting chemical security legislation that would make EPA the lead authority on new security rules rather than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a move that would shift the focus of regulations away from security improvements and toward reducing risks from substances that can cause environmental harm.

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MINE REFORM BACKERS SAY EASY HOUSE WIN WILL HELP COUNTER REID

Environmentalists and other supporters of a sweeping hardrock mining reform bill expect that the legislation's recent easy passage on the House floor will boost their leverage in upcoming conference negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who along with other key Senators is expected to craft a competing bill more favorable to industry.

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PALLONE EYES BILL TO BOOST EPA AUTHORITY ON CHEMICAL SECURITY RULES

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is drafting chemical security legislation that would make EPA the lead authority on new security rules rather than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a move that would shift the focus of regulations away from security improvements and toward reducing risks from substances that can cause environmental harm.

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CRITICS RAMP UP OPPOSITION TO BILL EXPANDING CLEAN WATER ACT'S SCOPE

Critics of a controversial bill who say it broadly expands the Clean Water Act's scope are ramping up pressure on House lawmakers to oppose the legislation, sending a series of letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signed by a wide range of industry, property rights and conservative political groups.

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WAXMAN TARGETS ENERGY LAW OIL, GAS WATER QUALITY EXEMPTIONS

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House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is considering a legislative fix to eliminate exemptions for oil and natural gas producers from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and other environmental laws, saying the issue needs to be "revisited."

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