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Congress

LAWMAKERS URGED TO PROTECT AGENCY SCIENTISTS IN WHISTLEBLOWER BILL

Environmentalists and EPA union officials are urging lawmakers to ensure that any effort to reconcile competing House and Senate whistleblower protection bills include language that protects EPA and other federal scientists from retaliation by managers when they report distortions, changes or delays in their research.

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Chemical Industry Inquiries: Welcoming The IG

EPA is winning early praise from environmentalists over its call for the Inspector General (IG) to investigate the agency's removal of Dr. Deborah Rice, a Maine public health official, from a scientific peer review panel at the request of the chemical industry.

Environmentalists and a top agency official say the IG investigation could complement a similar investigation being pursued by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

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DINGELL TARGETS KEY CHEMICAL GROUP'S INFLUENCE ON EPA SCIENCE

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has significantly broadened its investigation into the chemical industry's influence over the scientific community and EPA's risk assessments by demanding that the industry lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), provide extensive documentation of its role in influencing scientific publications and agency chemical review panels.

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GREEN APPEARS SET TO TAKE OVER KEY ENVIRONMENTAL PANEL CHAIRMANSHIP

Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) appears set to take over the just-vacated chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee's environment and hazardous materials panel by citing his seniority in Congress, and he is already outlining his short-term plans to hold hearings on Superfund and clean water issues.

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HOUSE BEGINS FLOOR DEBATE ON BEACH ACT REAUTHORIZATION BILL

The House has begun consideration of legislation that increases authorized funding to protect water quality at beaches and would allow states to use the money to determine the source of pollution, with key amendments set for debate, including a measure that would require EPA to study the impact of climate change on beach pollution.

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HOUSE COMMITTEE GEARS UP FOR WRDA 2008, CORPS REFORM UNCERTAIN

The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee is preparing to introduce new water resources development legislation just months after the passage of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), but a committee spokeswoman says it is to early to determine whether the new bill will include provisions reforming the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluates the environmental impact of its projects.

WRDA is traditionally reauthorized every two years, but 2007 marked the first time the law had been reauthorized since 2000.

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LAWMAKERS URGED TO PROTECT AGENCY SCIENTISTS IN WHISTLEBLOWER BILL

Environmentalists and EPA union officials are urging lawmakers to ensure that any effort to reconcile competing House and Senate whistleblower protection bills include language that protects EPA and other federal scientists from retaliation by managers when they report distortions, changes or delays in their research.

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GROUPS PUSH EPA TO FUND NANOTECH RESEARCH PLAN CONGRESS REQUESTED

Seventeen environmentalist and chemical industry organizations are calling on EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to immediately begin work with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) -- as requested by Congress -- on developing and monitoring a federal nanotechnology "research roadmap" for environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues. The groups are responding to an EPA official's suggestion that the NAS research plan is unnecessary.

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DESPITE MOVEMENT, FARM BILL ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMS REMAIN UNCERTAIN

The fate of several key agriculture programs aimed at protecting water quality remains uncertain while Congress wrangles over the Farm Bill, despite the start of House-Senate conference committee negotiations April 10 to hash out the final details of the compromise legislation.

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EPA, DEMOCRATS OPPOSE PESTICIDE MEASURE IN HOUSE FARM BILL

House and Senate Democrats are citing EPA's opposition to a little-noticed House Farm Bill provision that would prohibit conservation programs from using funding to encourage environmentally friendly pest-control in order to gather congressional support for their effort to strike the measure from the conferenced version of the legislation.

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