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Congress

HOUSE PANEL, ACTIVISTS PRESS EPA TO ADDRESS DENTAL MERCURY WASTE

A House oversight panel and activists are increasing pressure on EPA to address mercury releases from dental offices, a move that some groups hope will ultimately lead to the agency forcing the dental industry to use technology aimed at curbing such pollution.

But new results from a three-year study the wastewater treatment industry conducted is indicating the technology may not prevent as much mercury from reaching the environment as hoped.

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PENDING STUDY ON ASBESTOS IN TOYS COULD BOLSTER SENATE BILL CRITICS

Critics of a Senate bill intended to force EPA to ban asbestos are pointing to a forthcoming study showing some children's toys contain the substance to bolster their appeal to House lawmakers to strengthen the bill, which they say would allow industry to continue using materials capable of producing dangerous exposure levels to the known carcinogen, an informed source says.

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DEMOCRATS PRESS DHS TO JUSTIFY ENVIRONMENTAL WAIVERS FOR BORDER FENCE

In a move that could embolden a court challenge by environmentalists, key House Democrats are seeking to force the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to justify its recent decision to waive a slew of environmental laws in order to make way for a controversial immigration control fence on the U.S.-Mexico border.

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DOE REPORT CITED IN PUSH FOR UTILITY PAYMENTS TO NUCLEAR CLEANUP FUND

Environmentalists are citing a recent Department of Energy (DOE) report in arguing that the nuclear industry should be required to continue paying into a federal fund for cleanup of the nation's uranium enrichment facilities, as part of a congressional debate on reauthorizing the program. DOE was required to develop the report to guide lawmakers on possibly revising the program, but the department has not offered any specific recommendation on whether industry should pay into the fund.

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PUSH FOR NEW URANIUM MINES PROMPTS WIDESPREAD CLEANUP CONCERNS

Efforts by nuclear regulators and mining industry officials to open new uranium mines across the country are prompting wide-ranging concerns from environmentalists and others that current cleanup requirements are not adequate to address the contamination that will likely remain for decades.

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KEY WESTERN SENATORS RENEW CONCERNS OVER COAL MINE CLEANUP FUND

Key Western senators are renewing concerns that Western states are not sufficiently benefitting from a federal program that cleans up abandoned coal mines.

At issue is the abandoned mine land (AML) program, which was created under the Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977 to reclaim coal mines. The program is funded through fees based on each ton of coal mined in the United States, with half of the fees going to states and tribes and the other half going to the federal government for various related programs.

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FEARING SUPERFUND CHANGES, KEY PANEL SEEKS MINING BILL OVERSIGHT

House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats are asserting jurisdiction over portions of a sweeping hardrock mining reform bill that recently passed the House in an effort to ensure anticipated conference committee negotiations with the Senate do not produce legislation detrimental to EPA's Superfund cleanup program.

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SENATE FARM BILL SEEKS CAFO STUDY AS ALTERNATIVE TO SUPERFUND WAIVER

Senate agriculture committee leaders have granted a small concession to a bipartisan group of lawmakers seeking to exempt farming operations from Superfund liability by requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the pending Farm Bill to study the cost of using animal manure as a feedstock in bioenergy production.

Lawmakers who support the waiver argue that the cost of bioenergy production will be excessively high if farming operations are not exempt from Superfund liability.

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DEMOCRATS PUSH PERCHLORATE BILL DESPITE GOP LITIGATION CONCERNS

House Democrats are pushing forward with legislation that would force EPA to set an enforceable drinking water standard for the ubiquitous rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate, despite House Republicans' concerns that passage of the bill could lead to contentious litigation.

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AFTER HOUSE VOTE, REALTORS EYE 2008 TO EXPAND CLEANUP TAX CREDIT

Real estate developers and their congressional supporters are vowing to push for a broad, and permanent, brownfields cleanup tax credit measure in 2008 after the House earlier this month passed a bill that only extends the expiring credit for one year and stops short of providing additional relief sought by the industry and their supporters.

"We're having a lot of trouble getting Congress to focus on [the brownfields cleanup and other expiring tax provisions] in a permanent way because of the revenue constraints that exist," one industry source says.

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