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Congress

Harkin Seeks To Boost Cellulosic Energy In Looming Farm Bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is eying several agriculture conservation programs to encourage the use of renewable fuels from cellulosic feedstocks in the upcoming Farm Bill.

"I don't know which program's the best," Harkin said Jan. 17 at an Agriculture Committee hearing on U.S Agriculture Department (USDA) conservation programs. Because many supporters of cellulosic energy are pushing the use of switchgrass and similar grasses for ethanol production, the Grassland Reserve Program may be a good option he said.

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Funding Re-Emerges As Chief Concern For Water Infrastructure Bill

House lawmakers are poised to introduce a bipartisan bill aimed at reauthorizing EPA's clean water state revolving fund (SRF) in the coming weeks but appear divided on how to finance it, with Republicans and EPA touting the use of private funding sources and industry incentives while Democrats are reportedly considering options that may include new taxes.

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Pelosi Plan For Select Climate Panel Sparks House Jurisdictional Fight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) plan to establish a select committee on global warming is already causing jurisdictional battles with members of the House energy committee and could slow the progress of climate change legislation this year, sources say.

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Controversial Nominee Nears Recess Appointment As Regulatory Chief

Susan Dudley, President Bush's controversial pick to head the White House Office of Management & Budget's (OMB) regulatory review office, is moving closer to a likely recess appointment for that role after being named a "senior adviser" to the office, sources say.

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Senators May Seek Legislative Fix To EPA Benzene Trading Proposal

Northwest senators may seek a legislative fix to an EPA proposal that allows refiners to buy emissions credits rather than reduce levels of the air toxic benzene in fuel, citing concerns that the plan could hurt air quality in the region and may violate the Clean Air Act.

Sources say that in the absence of any new law, the senators' concerns may preview arguments in any potential future litigation once the rule is final.

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Carper Wins Some Nuclear Oversight In New Environment Panel Plan

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has ceded jurisdiction over most nuclear safety issues to Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) in his role as chair of a subcommittee on clean air issues, amid vigorous committee debate over how to organize the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee in the new Congress.

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Democrats' Oil Trust Fund Bill Faces Bipartisan Concerns In Senate

Democrats' plans to pass legislation revoking oil industry incentives and shifting royalty payments into development of alternative energies faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where both Democratic and GOP lawmakers are likely to raise concerns over implementation of a new trust fund the law would create, sources say.

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States Offer Mixed Reviews Of Democrats' Plan to End Earmarks

Democrats' plans to ban earmarks in EPA's pending fiscal year 2007 budget are drawing mixed responses from state officials, with some saying the move could jeopardize their work while others say programs could benefit from being funded through EPA's general funds rather than earmarks.

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Election Results Put Pentagon On Defensive On Environment Issues

After years of enjoying heavy influence on environmental policy debates, the Defense Department may now be put on the defensive after the 2006 elections -- having to justify hard-fought environmental exemptions it had already won, observers say.

"We don't want to lose any of the gains" says one informed source, adding the revisions DOD attained in 2003 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) are the most at risk of being lost. "We'll certainly be wanting to preserve gains," as opposed to offering new measures, the source says.

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Senate Environment Panel Drilling Claim May Spark Jurisdictional Fight

Claims by Senate environment committee members that their panel will have significant jurisdiction over issues relating to Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) drilling could spark a jurisdictional fight with the Senate energy committee, which is the traditional lead panel on the issue, sources say.

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