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Congress

APPROPRIATORS PRESERVE SUPERFUND BOOST IN OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

Congressional appropriators have preserved funding boosts to EPA toxic waste cleanup programs, which key lawmakers who oversee their administration had backed, in an omnibus fiscal year 2008 budget bill, despite Bush administration arguments that the increases are unnecessary.

The omnibus bill provides approximately $29 million more than the administration requested for EPA's Superfund program. It also includes budget boosts to other key waste programs and calls on the agency to submit to Congress reports on several issues of concern to congressional overseers.

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Johnson Faces Growing Scrutiny Over California GHG Waiver Denial

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is facing growing scrutiny from Congress over his controversial decision to deny California's long-standing request for a greenhouse gas (GHG) waiver from the Clean Air Act despite unusually stark warnings from agency lawyers that the decision is legally indefensible.

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After Hill Backing, Lawmakers Hope EPA Will Fund Meth Cleanup Plan

House backers of a widely supported EPA program for setting voluntary cleanup levels for illegal drug laboratories say they hope the agency will fund the program in its upcoming budgets, a move that will allow the program's supporters to avoid the difficult step of seeking program funds in the annual appropriations process.

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Congress Cuts EPA FY08 Clean Water Budget To Fund Other Programs

Despite strong support for increased water infrastructure funds, EPA's fiscal year 2008 budget, which President Bush is expected to sign in the coming days, significantly limits funding for the program while restoring modest boosts for other high priority areas such as clean air grants and Superfund cleanups.

House sources say the appropriations cuts could energize lawmakers to authorize increased funding levels for clean water infrastructure in the next session of Congress as a way to argue for increased appropriations in FY09.

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EPA Uncertainty Over Lead Risks May Hinder Push To Strengthen Paint Rule

Efforts by Democratic lawmakers and agency advisors to push EPA to strengthen cleanup requirements contained in a pending lead paint regulation could be hampered by the agency's uncertainty over the risks posed by exposure to lead, which officials recently detailed in a separate proposal for addressing airborne lead emissions.

EPA is moving closer to issuing its long-sought lead renovation, repair and painting (LRRP) rule, having sent it to the White House Office of Management & Budget for interagency review Dec. 6.

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Draft House Bill Precludes EPA From Future Chemical Security Role

Draft House legislation that would create comprehensive new chemical security standards for industrial facilities excludes any EPA role in either setting or overseeing the standards, despite environmentalists' long-standing calls for a formal agency role in developing and implementing such rules.

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Energy Bill's RFS Could Force EPA To Delay Pending GHG Fuels Rule

EPA's pending rule to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by increasing supplies of renewable and alternative fuels, which the agency was set to issue by the end of the year, is likely to be delayed due to conflicting renewable fuel standard (RFS) requirements in the soon-to-be approved energy bill, which President Bush has agreed to sign.

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EPA Budget Avoids Worst-Case Cuts In Democrats' Omnibus FY08 Bill

Democrats' omnibus fiscal year 2008 budget bill, which Congress is expected to approve this week, avoids the massive $400 million cut to EPA's budget that some observers were predicting, but still reduces the agency's funding by more than $260 million compared to current enacted levels.

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AGENCY PLANS TO LEAVE LONG-TERM CO2 LIABILITY ISSUES TO CONGRESS

As EPA moves to develop rules governing storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions underground, the agency is planning to leave to Congress a host of complicated questions about environmental liability that industry may face from long-term storage of the gas.

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EXPERTS SAY FEDERAL POST-DISASTER EXPOSURE ASSESSMENT ROLES UNCLEAR

A panel of leading U.S. exposure assessments experts is telling a key member of Congress that a disaster preparedness workshop should be organized "as soon as possible" to address key issues such as which federal agency should take the lead in dealing with post-disaster exposure assessment.

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