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Congress

CRS Says House Bill Requires Broad New Cost Analyses Of EPA Rules

EPA would have to launch a massive 10-year plan for reviewing all existing rules to analyze their impacts on small entities if legislation moving through the House to amend the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) becomes law, a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report says.

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Compromise House Farm Bill Draws Concerns Over New Wetlands Budget Cuts

Environmental groups say the House Agriculture Committee's compromise Farm Bill proposal that restores funding for one key environmental program is a step in the right direction, but are raising concerns about unexpected cuts to a wetlands protection program, which they say is critical to protecting water quality.

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee presented an outline of a possible compromise bill to address the significant differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill reauthorization Congress passed last year.

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BOXER WILLING TO EYE NEPA REFORM TO ADDRESS TIME LINE, COST CONCERNS

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at a recent hearing suggested she is open to reforming the time lines for environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as part of upcoming transportation authorization legislation. The suggestion could be seen as a significant acknowledgment of recent criticisms by a high-level commission and other experts that NEPA reviews take too long and add costs to projects, but Boxer warned that any NEPA reforms would have to adhere to environmental protections.

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DEMOCRATS VOW TO KILL EPA FY09 PLAN FOR TANK INSPECTION FLEXIBILITY

Congressional Democrats are vowing to kill EPA's revived attempt to give states flexibility in meeting leaking underground storage tank (LUST) inspection requirements, saying the plan is "dead on arrival" because lawmakers see it as an attempt to avoid spending LUST funds.

The agency is also sparking separate Democratic ire over its fiscal year 2009 budget request to slash funding by millions of dollars for several of its core waste programs.

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KEY HOUSE ENERGY COMMITTEE PANELS FACE MAJOR LEADERSHIP OVERHAULS

Key House Energy & Commerce Committee subcommittees with oversight of major energy and environmental issues are facing leadership overhauls.

Reps. Hilda Solis (D-CA) and Gene Green (D-TX) may battle later this year to become chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee's panel on environment and hazardous materials, with Green saying he is interested in the position at the same time as staffers say Solis appears to be the leading contender.

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GAO REVIEW OF KEY EPA SDWA RISK DECISIONS MAY SPUR LEGISLATION

Democrats on Capitol Hill are urging the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study EPA's efforts to resolve problems with a host of key drinking water risk-reduction policies linked to the agency's standards for key contaminants, in addition to the waste impacts of bottled water, a move that may spur legislative action.

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NEGOTIATIONS MAY SCALE BACK HOUSE SEWER OVERFLOW NOTIFICATION BILL

Correction Appended

Negotiations between the wastewater sector and environmentalists could result in major revisions to House and Senate legislation requiring wastewater facilities to notify the public quickly when wet weather causes them to release sewage, changes that could scale back the stringency of the bill and give EPA more discretion in addressing its monitoring requirements.

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WATER SECTOR SEEKS ROLE IN SENATE CLIMATE BILL'S TRADING SCHEME

PHOENIX -- The water sector is stepping up lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill in order to win a role in a carbon cap-and-trade scheme proposed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), a key initiative that comes as wastewater and drinking water officials are grappling with how their industries can adapt to climate change.

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COMPROMISE HOUSE FARM BILL DRAWS CONCERNS OVER NEW WETLAND CUTS

Conservation groups say the House Agriculture Committee's compromise Farm Bill proposal that restores funding for one key environmental program is a step in the right direction, but are raising concerns about unexpected cuts to a wetlands protection program.

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee presented an outline of a possible compromise bill to address the significant differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill reauthorization Congress passed last year.

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WATER SECTOR PUSHES FOR RELIEF IN HOUSE CHEMICAL SECURITY BILL

Water industry lobbyists are urging House lawmakers to include provisions in a pending chemical security bill granting wastewater and drinking water facilities relief from requirements that could force them to replace chemical treatment practices with technologies that reduce the risks from a terrorist attack -- a switch industry says could cost millions.

Industry officials say their discussions with Hill staffers appear to be showing some progress, though Democratic sources indicate they may not be open to providing the relief in the bill.

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