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Democrats Face Grassroots Push For Stronger Environmental Justice Plans

Congressional Democrats, who are working to tighten federal environmental justice (EJ) and civil rights policies, are facing growing pressure from grassroots groups to strengthen legislative proposals that activists say do not go far enough to protect low-income and minority communities from pollution.

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Administration Farm Bill Plan Pushes Funds For Water Credit Trading

The Bush administration's newly released 2007 Farm Bill proposal includes an increased emphasis on water quality credit trading, recommending $50 million to develop uniform standards for quantifying credits, establishing credit registries, and offering credit audit and certification services.

Additionally the proposal calls for streamlining several conservation programs and using the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to encourage growing perennial crops as a biomass reserve for cellulosic energy production.

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Pact Paves Way For Pelosi Panel To Coordinate House Climate Debate

House Democratic leaders appear to have struck an agreement that paves the way for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to create a controversial Select Committee on Energy Independence & Climate Change, while allowing the standing committees to proceed to write legislation that addresses the causes and effects of climate change.

A key lawmaker says the select committee will likely play a "useful role" in the climate change debate by coordinating witnesses and testimony for the several standing committees that share jurisdiction on the issue.

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EPA To Ask Congress To Relax Rules For State Fuel Tank Inspections

EPA will ask Congress to provide states more flexibility to meet stringent new compliance and inspection requirements for underground fuel tanks that were outlined in the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT).

Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson made the announcement Feb. 5 at a briefing with reporters to discuss the administration's fiscal year 2008 budget, which seeks $72.4 million for the underground storage tank (UST) program, a slight decrease from the previous year's request of $72.7 million.

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Budget Proposal Heightens Tensions Over Water Infrastructure Bill

EPA's just-released fiscal year 2008 budget proposal is seeking to bolster private investment in clean water infrastructure, a development that is likely to heighten tensions with House lawmakers, who appear likely to approve legislation later this week to increase federal investment in the agency's clean water state revolving fund (SRF).

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Bush Seeks To Cut Core EPA Programs By Millions In FY08 Request

President Bush is seeking to slash millions of dollars from core EPA programs while freezing state and local grant funding in his fiscal year 2008 budget request released Feb. 5, continuing his trend of cutting EPA's overall budget each year.

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Key Senator Sees House Taking Early Lead In Hill Climate Change Debate

Senate energy committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) says the House is likely to move faster on climate change legislation than the Senate, signaling a shift in the process that many congressional and other sources had previously believed would start in the upper chamber.

"The House looks like they are on a pretty fast track," Bingaman told reporters Jan. 30 in response to a question about whether the Senate or House will move first on climate legislation.

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U.S. Noncommittal On Mercury Strategy Ahead Of Key Treaty Talks

The State Department is emphasizing its continued support of voluntary partnerships to curb global mercury pollution rather than a binding treaty, while leaving the door open to consider more stringent options, according to a letter the department sent to two senators this week that previews the U.S. position ahead of a highly anticipated United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) meeting on the issue.

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Dingell Proceeds With Climate Agenda Amid House Panel Uncertainty

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) is proceeding with efforts to position his committee as a central player in the debate over climate change emissions, even as Dingell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are still at odds over her plan to create a Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change --- which Dingell has criticized as superfluous.

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Lawmakers Eye Quick Passage Of Meth Lab Cleanup Standards Bill

Congressional lawmakers are eyeing quick passage of a bill that would require EPA to develop cleanup guidelines that states could adopt to address often-remote methamphetamine labs that can explode and contaminate nearby land and water.

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