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Congress

DEMOCRATS MAY IGNORE BUSH'S REQUEST FOR STEEP CUTS TO EPA FY09 BUDGET

Democratic lawmakers and others are harshly criticizing President Bush's plan to cut EPA's budget by $330 million in fiscal year 2009, to $7.14 billion -- the lowest requested funding level since 1997, according to a state source -- prompting suggestions that Congress will ultimately ignore the president's budget request by funding the agency through a continuing resolution until a new administration takes office in early 2009.

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Key House Panel Chair Touts Environmental Record In Close Election Primary

Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD), chairman of a key House Energy & Commerce Committee panel, is touting his seniority while seeking to bolster his environmental record in his campaign to defeat a primary rival who won endorsements from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the Sierra Club.

Wynn, seeking his ninth term in Congress, is facing a tough fight in Maryland's Feb. 12 primary against Donna Edwards, a public interest attorney who came within 3 percentage points of defeating Wynn in the 2006 primary.

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Mercury Ruling May Bolster Multi-Pollutant Climate Bill

A federal appeals court's rejection of EPA's approach to limiting mercury emissions is being cited by Senate Clean Air & Nuclear Safety Subcommittee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) as support for his proposed multi-pollutant legislation seeking to reduce mercury, carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

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House Focus On California Law May Help Push To Tighten Senate Asbestos Bill

House Democrats are studying a strict California law governing the use of asbestos in road construction, a move that could help public health activists who are urging House lawmakers to strengthen a recently passed Senate bill intended to force EPA to ban the known carcinogen, informed sources say.

One informed source says the California law, which generally allows regulators to ban road material containing any asbestos, sets a precedent showing that regulators can set a threshold stricter than the levels contained in the Senate bill.

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LAUTENBERG WORKS TO CLOSE WASTE-HANDLING EXEMPTION ON RAILROADS

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is working on a legislative fix to make permanent a provision in the fiscal year 2008 omnibus appropriations law that prohibits the processing and transfer of solid waste at rail facilities without meeting strict environmental requirements, a Democratic source says.

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KEY DEMOCRAT MOVES TO HALT NUCLEAR WASTE IMPORT FOR U.S. DISPOSAL

House Science & Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) is warning that the United States should solve its domestic capacity challenges for storing low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) before increasing its imports of the material for processing and disposal.

Gordon's concern stems from efforts by the country's largest handler of a certain class of LLRW to expand disposal operations of foreign waste in the United States at a time when the lawmaker says state and local regional authorities are "rapidly approaching" their limit to store the waste.

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WYNN TOUTS ENVIRONMENTAL STRENGTH IN CLOSE ELECTION PRIMARY RACE

Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD), chairman of a key House Energy & Commerce Committee panel, is touting his seniority while seeking to bolster his environmental record in his campaign to defeat a primary rival who won endorsements from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the Sierra Club.

Wynn, seeking his ninth term in Congress, is facing a tough fight in Maryland's Feb. 12 primary against Donna Edwards, a public interest attorney who came within 3 percentage points of defeating Wynn in the 2006 primary.

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DINGELL VOWS TO 'FULLY ASSERT' JURISDICTION ON CHEMICAL SECURITY BILL

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) is vowing to "fully assert" his jurisdiction over newly introduced chemical security legislation in an effort that could help to address concerns raised by environmentalists and drinking water officials over a bill moving through the House Homeland Security Committee.

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DEMOCRATS STUDY CALIFORNIA ASBESTOS RULE AMIDST FEDERAL DEBATE

House Democrats are studying a strict California regulation governing the use of asbestos in road construction as they grapple with whether to address concerns that a Senate bill intended to force EPA to ban the known carcinogen could allow industry to continue using materials capable of producing dangerous exposure levels, informed sources say.

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BOXER CONCEDES INSUFFICIENT SUPPORT FOR REINSTATING SUPERFUND TAX

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is conceding that she likely does not have the necessary 60 votes to support reinstating the Superfund tax, but says she is working on building support among senators and that it remains an environment panel priority this year despite her committee's crowded agenda.

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