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Congress

Oberstar Eyes Permit Streamlining To Address Fears Over Wetlands Bill

Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, is planning hearings on the Clean Water Act permitting process --- including consideration of possible permit streamlining --- to address bipartisan concerns that his bill expanding the law's scope could preempt state permit programs and intensify an existing permitting backlog.

Oberstar told a committee hearing July 17 that he will address permit concerns over the bill when the panel considers a "streamlining proposition."

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Senate Talks May Boost Support For Bill Requiring EPA To Ban Asbestos

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a key Democratic leader, is holding talks with industry over how to define asbestos in a bill that would force EPA to implement a broad ban on the carcinogen --- a move that could help secure support from the crushed stone industry and key Republicans for the legislation, sources say.

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Boxer-Nelson Bill Would Force EPA Decision On Vehicle GHG Controls

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) have introduced legislation that would require EPA to decide no later than Sept. 30 whether to grant California's request for a waiver from the Clean Air Act that would allow the state to establish the nation's first greenhouse gas (GHG) controls on vehicles.

Proponents of the measure say it is intended to force an agency action on the matter sooner than EPA's stated plan for a decision by the end of the year.

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Bingaman Climate Change Bill Sidesteps Thorny State Preemption Issue

Legislation unveiled July 11 by Senate energy committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to establish a federal greenhouse gas regulatory program does not include language to preempt states from adopting their own standards, even though the chairman has recently suggested that he supports such provisions, which are a major priority for industry groups. The new legislation, backed by several prominent lawmakers including Sen.

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Johnson Sets High Bar For Industry Push To Retain Ozone Standard

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is indicating that industry will have a tough time convincing the agency to retain the current 8-hour ozone emissions limit, despite the agency's recent proposal which critics say opens the door to retaining the current ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS).

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House Energy Bill Seeks Carbon-Neutral DOD, Federal Government

The Defense Department (DOD) would be required to take radical steps to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under provisions in a package of energy bills endorsed last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that would require the Pentagon and other federal government departments to freeze greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2011 and effectively reduce them to zero by 2050. But the provisions are expected to prompt strong opposition by Senate Republicans, according to defense environmental experts.

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Democrat Eyes Bill To Boost Chemical Board's Access To Key EPA Data

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is developing a bill to give the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) significant new authority to demand information from EPA that board members say is vital to its investigation of chemical accidents, following criticism of EPA for hampering past investigations by withholding vital data.

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Debate Of Senate Infrastructure Bill Timed For CWA Anniversary

Senate debate on legislation aimed at reviving EPA's water infrastructure funding will likely be pushed back until October when its introduction would coincide with the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA), timing that could bolster the rhetoric of the bill's supporters on the floor.

Key sources on Capitol Hill say lawmakers are postponing the introduction of H.R. 720, a bipartisan bill that passed the House earlier this year, until after passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and it may reach the floor sometime in October, the CWA's anniversary.

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Water Utilities Eye Rate Limits As Possible Condition For EPA Bond Plan

Public water officials are considering calling for lawmakers to set conditions --- such as reduced water rates for consumers --- on private utilities that benefit from future use of a controversial EPA plan to ease bond financing rules for water infrastructure projects.

The officials are debating whether the EPA plan to lift federal restrictions on the bonds, known as private activity bonds (PABs), should include provisions requiring utilities to pass on financial benefits of the plan to customers.

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Boxer Seeking Changes In Controversial EPA Dibutyl Phthalate Assessment

Senate environment committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is seeking changes to the agency's draft risk assessment for the controversial chemical dibutyl phthalate (DBP) by raising multiple concerns about the conduct and outcome of the assessment, including why the agency excluded evidence that could have led to a tighter standard than last year's proposal, which will soon be finalized.

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