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Congress

Activists Eye House Asbestos Ban Bill After Unanimous Senate Panel Vote

Groups representing asbestos victims are pushing to win introduction and passage of House legislation requiring EPA to ban asbestos after the Senate environment committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation forcing the agency to implement a broad ban on the carcinogen.

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Broader Senate GOP Probe Adds To Woes For Embattled NIEHS Chief

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is expanding his probe of alleged overspending and staff retaliation by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) chief David Schwartz, who is already facing similar inquiries from House Democrats.

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New EPA IG Nominee Draws Early Skepticism Over Possible Audit Focus

President Bush's just-announced nomination of Andrew Cochran --- a former congressional investigator and Commerce Department official --- to be EPA's next Inspector General continues a push by the administration to focus the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on auditing to find fraud, waste and abuse in the agency rather than sweeping program evaluations, critics say.

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EPA IG Revives Controversial Plan To Hire Slew Of Temporary Workers

EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) is preparing to revive a controversial plan to spend millions of dollars hiring temporary audit, analyst and other workers from private companies to provide support services in the office --- an effort that could intensify a clash with Congress over OIG plans to trim full-time office staff.

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Administration Faces New Queries From Democrats Over Rule Reviews

The Bush administration is facing new questions from key Democratic lawmakers over its process for developing and reviewing EPA and other agencies' regulations, which critics charge is delayed by "excessive" political oversight.

Several Democratic senators, including presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), are seeking assurances from former Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA), the new nominee to head the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB), that he will ensure transparency in OMB review of EPA and others agencies' proposed rules and guidance documents.

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Industry Eyes Senate Bill To Back Suit On EPA Waiver For Ballast Water

The shipping industry is eyeing Senate legislation on ballast water management as a way to bolster industry and EPA arguments in pending litigation that ballast water and other vessel discharges should not be regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

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Senate Bipartisan Plan May Sidestep Deadlock Over Carbon Price Controls

Key senators have unveiled a bipartisan proposal to establish an oversight board to provide industry with flexibility in meeting a carbon cap-and-trade scheme, a move that could sidestep a political stalemate over so-called economic "safety-valve" proposals as part of comprehensive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Democrats Hope Superfund Study Bolsters Environmental Justice Bill

A new report suggesting that a Clinton-era executive order on environmental justice has done little to increase the Superfund program's focus on protecting minorities could bolster efforts by equity activists to pass legislation codifying the order and also aid Democratic oversight efforts of the cleanup program generally, sources say.

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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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