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EPA To Cut IG Staff Despite Congressional Democrats' Opposition

EPA appears to be moving quickly to cut inspector general (IG) office staff and close regional offices in response to funding cuts in the administration's fiscal year 2008 budget request despite ongoing concerns from Democratic lawmakers about the proposed cuts. An internal March 5 e-mail obtained by Inside EPA says the agency will begin offering buyouts to some IG staff members as soon as March 15.

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House Bill Boosting EPA Clean Water Funds Stalls On Deficit Concerns

A bipartisan House bill aimed at boosting funds for EPA's state revolving loan fund (SRF) for wastewater infrastructure projects has stalled due to informal suggestions from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the bill could substantially increase the deficit, congressional and other sources say.

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House Bill Seeks To Fill EPA Environmental Justice Health Data Gaps

A key House lawmaker is pushing legislation to ensure that EPA and other agencies gather health effects, exposure and other data necessary to address concerns that pollution is disproportionately harming low-income and minority communities.

Risk experts say the data is critical for environmental justice groups pushing policymakers to do more to limit communities' exposure to harmful pollution, in part because a recent report from environmental justice groups showing minorities' proximity to hazardous waste sites does not provide sufficient data to estimate health risks.

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EPA Superfund Goal May Face Criticism Over Cost-Benefit Approach

EPA is implementing a new measure to track Superfund cleanups' effectiveness in limiting human exposure that could draw criticism from Democrats charging that the agency is imposing an unlawful cost-benefit approach to cleanups. According to EPA's justification or its fiscal year 2008 budget request, the agency will develop a new measure that tracks the agency's effectiveness at controlling human exposure to contamination at sites on Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL) based on available funds.

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Complex Cap-And-Trade, Carbon Tax Plans Delay Key Senate Climate Bill

A key Capitol Hill staffer is citing the complexity of drafting legislation for either a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax to control greenhouse gases, factors that may be prompting Senate energy committee chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to delay the introduction of his climate change bill.

Bob Simon, staff director for the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, said recently that there was no set date for Bingaman to introduce his bill. He cited the difficulty of working through the complex issues involved in developing a cap-and-trade system.

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EPA Enforcement Chief Defends FY08 Budget Ahead Of Hill Scrutiny

In an exclusive interview with Inside EPA, the agency's top enforcement official is defending the program's success and fiscal year 2008 funding levels as Democrats begin a series of hearings to question EPA over its proposed budget.

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Senate Democrats Plan New Push On Bill Forcing EPA Asbestos Ban

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is preparing to introduce legislation forcing EPA to ban asbestos as part of Democrats' response to the agency's failure to cooperate with a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into how it handled controversial revisions to a guide on asbestos dangers for auto mechanics.

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NGA Urges Congress To Back Sequestration To Address State CO2 Rules

Governors are asking the federal government to provide financial incentives and liability relief for carbon sequestration projects as a way to help Western states address concerns that they may not be able to easily retrofit coal-fired power plants to meet a stringent new West Coast greenhouse gas emissions mandate.

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EPA May Sidestep $80 Million Budget Cut But Still Faces FY07 Funding Questions

EPA's fiscal year 2007 spending measure, part of a joint funding resolution enacted Feb. 15, will not include an FY06 mandate to rescind $80 million in grants, contracts and interagency agreements, though great uncertainty remains as to how the $80 million will be reinvested in EPA and at what levels the agency will fund key programs. The resolution, however, does specifically mandate a funding increase for the Superfund program.

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Lawmaker Eyes FY08 Budget Rider To Block Eased EPA Air Toxics Rules

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) may push a rider on EPA's fiscal year 2008 budget bill to block EPA from implementing its controversial proposal that would allow industrial facilities to escape stringent air toxics regulations if they can demonstrate they have lowered emissions.

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