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Congress

LAWMAKERS WEIGH OPTIONS TO MODIFY LIEBERMAN-WARNER CLIMATE BILL

Senate lawmakers are weighing their options to make changes to a key climate bill introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) as the senators hope to move the bill quickly before the end of the year.

A subcommittee markup is planned for next week, and Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has said she wants to pass the bill out of the full committee before the Senate adjourns for the year.

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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 similar to stringent new regulations adopted by the European Union (EU) on chemical reporting, sources close to the issue say.

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EPA PLAN TO HALT GM CORN TESTING RAISES FEARS OVER NEW ETHANOL CROP

Environmentalists are raising concerns that EPA's recent proposal to halt testing in the food supply for the presence of StarLink corn -- a controversial, genetically modified (GM) industrial variety that caused widespread contamination of the food supply -- could ease regulatory approval for another GM corn intended to boost ethanol production.

At the same time, EPA is beginning to review the potential air and water impacts of bioengineered ethanol and other GM biofuel crops as part of a newly launched biofuels strategy, agency sources say.

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Facing Opposition, Oberstar Seeks To Calm Industry Fears Over CWA Bill

Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of a key House committee and lead sponsor of a bill to expand the Clean Water Act's (CWA) scope, is vowing to streamline the water act permitting process and preserve CWA regulatory exemptions, amid industry claims that he lacks sufficient support to move the bill out of his panel.

One industry source says ongoing industry criticisms of the bill are sapping members' support for the bill, while a key Senate Democratic staffer is acknowledging the bill is unlikely to reach the president's desk this year.

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Mine Reform Bill Backers Eye Quick House Approval To Counter Reid

Environmentalists and other supporters of a sweeping hardrock mining reform bill are hoping to limit debate on the measure when it hits the House floor next week in an effort to boost their leverage in conference negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who is expected to draft a competing bill more favorable to industry.

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LACK OF FLOOR VOTE MAY LIMIT SENATORS' INFLUENCE ON EPA FY08 FUNDING

Senate lawmakers may not consider EPA's fiscal year 2008 spending bill on the Senate floor and could instead move straight to conference with the House version, a time-saving measure that would dramatically limit many senators' influence on key EPA budget issues, including funding for climate programs and controversial policy amendments.

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COALITION PUSH TO AMEND BROWNFIELDS LAW FACES KEY FUNDING HURDLE

Efforts by developers, local governments and a House lawmaker to boost funding levels for EPA's brownfields program are unlikely to move until the existing EPA program is fully funded, says a key House source.

Brownfields legislation is "just not going to happen," the source says, until EPA's program is fully funded. The source notes that EPA is only funding about one third of brownfields grant applications it currently receives, adding that this shortfall needs to be addressed before consideration is given to expanding the program, the source says.

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STORAGE AGREEMENT CLEARS PATH FOR MERCURY EXPORT LEGISLATION

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

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REID, INHOFE SEEK GAO STUDY THAT MAY LIMIT BOXER SUPERFUND TAX PUSH

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is working with Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study into alleged excessive EPA cleanup requirements at a New Jersey Superfund site, a study that Inhofe says could undermine efforts by Senate environment committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to reinstate expired Superfund taxes.

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Broad Deal On Mercury Storage Clears Path For House Bill Banning Exports

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

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