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Congress

REID'S NEW FY08 BUDGET PLAN OFFERS HOPE FOR MODEST EPA FUNDING BOOST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) recently announced plan to craft a fiscal year 2008 omnibus spending bill could result in EPA getting a share of a roughly $700 million funding boost for environment-related agencies, congressional sources say, though the president is still vowing to veto spending bills that exceed his requested levels.

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STATES FAULT EPA PUSH TO BOOST REGIONS' FUNDS IN FY08 SPENDING BILL

State environmental officials are criticizing a new EPA push to boost funding for an obscure regional agency program at the same time as the administration is seeking major cuts to the agency's state and tribal assistance grant (STAG) account that states use to fund core environmental work.

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MERCURY EXPORT BAN BILL FACES SENATE HURDLES AFTER EASY HOUSE PASSAGE

A bill banning mercury exports and requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide for the long-term storage of the toxic substance still faces significant obstacles to being enacted despite having enjoyed easy passage in the House last week.

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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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