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States, Industry Eye Hill Push To Block OMB-Backed Permit Fee Rule

States and industry groups are looking to Congress to block a controversial Bush administration plan granting states increased clean water funds only if they increase their permit fees, after it became clear the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is moving forward with the plan despite widespread opposition.

Critics of the EPA proposed rule met with officials from OMB April 19 to reiterate their concerns, including that it would disproportionately harm small businesses and local governments and does nothing to improve water quality.

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OMB Memo Fails To Alleviate Critics' Regulatory Review Concerns

Democrats and environmentalists are criticizing a recent Office of Management & Budget (OMB) memo on implementing the administration's controversial executive order giving the White House additional power to review EPA and other agencies' regulations and guidance documents.

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Lawmakers Warn Key Wetlands Program May Face Farm Bill Cuts

House Agriculture Committee leaders are warning supporters of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs not to expect funding increases in the 2007 Farm Bill and that some programs, such as the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), may see cuts.

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High Court Superfund Ruling Unlikely To Settle Cost Recovery Issue

Uncertainty surrounding the ability of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to recover Superfund cleanup costs will likely continue regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in the just-argued suit, United States v. Atlantic Research Corp., observers say.

As a result, Congress will almost certainly have to consider the issue following the court's ruling, an option that key lawmakers and industry officials are already considering.

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Fight Over Iraq War Funding Bill Could Delay Some Cleanups, Army Says

The dispute between congressional Democrats and the White House over the Iraq-war funding bill could delay some active base cleanups because the Army has announced it is suspending obligating $100 million in contracts and work funded under the Army's environmental restoration account, an Army spokesperson told Inside EPA.

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Democrats Turn Up The Heat In Inquiry On Bush Regulatory Review Order

House Democrats are increasing pressure on the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) to reveal how the administration drafted a recent executive order giving the administration more power over EPA and other agencies' regulatory decisions and who was consulted in the drafting process.

Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), who chairs the House Science & Technology oversight subcommittee, promised at an April 26 oversight hearing to request documents on the issue and to hold additional future hearings to address concerns that the order scales back transparency.

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House Banking Panel Oversight May Complicate Climate Change Debate

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) may enter the fray over climate change by holding a hearing on the mechanisms of a carbon dioxide (CO2) cap-and-trade system, according to a key Republican lawmaker.

The move could further complicate the House debate over climate change, increasing political tensions among committees overseeing the high-profile issue, including the newly created Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming.

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Plan For Post-Cleanup Trust Fund Expected To Face Hill Opposition

A proposal to create a federal trust fund to absolve property owners of some cleanup liability for dormant contaminated sites is facing some early hurdles, with supporters acknowledging it will likely face a cool reception on Capitol Hill where Democrats may view it as a corporate buyout, opposition from trial lawyers because it limits future toxic tort suits and caution from industry because of remaining uncertainties.

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Governors Warn EPA Drinking Water Waivers Could Undermine Cleanups

The National Governors Association (NGA) is raising "significant questions" over an EPA proposal to allow small water utilities to meet less stringent drinking water standards than large utilities, saying the proposal could hamper cleanups at Superfund sites.

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In Probe On Job Cuts, House Democrats Question Acting IG's 2006 Bonus

Democratic lawmakers are probing a more than $15,000 bonus EPA paid to acting inspector general (IG) Bill Roderick in 2006 as they expand their ongoing investigation into a controversial Bush administration plan to cut 30 full-time IG office staff and trim the IG office's budget by $5.1 million in fiscal year 2008.

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