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Congress

New Coalition Lobbies To Block Expansion Of EPA's Water Act Oversight

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has formally joined a new coalition of more than a dozen agricultural, development and other industry groups to fight congressional efforts to expand the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) over isolated wetlands and other waterbodies.

A NACo source says any change to the law's jurisdiction could cost counties billions of dollars and delay public infrastructure projects due to increased EPA permitting requirements.

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS SPLIT OVER NEW FARM BILL PLAN FOR BIOFUELS FUNDS

Environmental and conservation groups are offering competing proposals to create new biofuel funding programs in the upcoming Farm Bill, although the groups generally agree that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) premiere environmental protection program should not be used for biofuel crops.

EPA officials, agency advisers and many environmentalists are concerned that setting aside land for biofuels production within USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays farmers not to farm on sensitive lands, could undermine water quality.

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KEY HOUSE LAWMAKER MAKES 'BEACH' ACT REAUTHORIZATION A PRIORITY

A key House lawmaker is pledging to soon begin work on reauthorizing a federal law that requires EPA to develop updated water quality criteria to prevent beachgoers from getting sick and provides state grants for monitoring the water quality of coastal beaches.

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FY08 BUDGET PLANS MAY STYMIE HOUSE WASTEWATER FUNDING BILL

The House and Senate appear to be backing away from the multi-billion dollar boost to EPA's wastewater funding program recently endorsed by House lawmakers and are instead recommending that appropriators provide as much as a $200 million increase in fiscal year 2008, a level that is still significantly higher than current spending levels.

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EPA TOUTS LOW-COST OPTIONS TO MANAGE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

ATLANTA -- At a major EPA conference on alternative ways to finance water infrastructure projects, the agency has advanced key agenda items that officials are pushing to shore up ailing infrastructure without the addition of significant new federal funds.

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Environmentalists Question EPA Risk Assessment For GE Crops

Environmentalists are questioning whether EPA has adequately assessed the risks posed by genetically engineered crops, saying the deaths of hundreds of bee colonies, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), could be due to farmers' use of the crops.

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EPA Outsourcing Plan Intensifies Controversy Over Proposed IG Cuts

EPA is soliciting proposals to temporarily outsource millions of dollars worth of work currently conducted by its Office of Inspector General (IG), an effort that could fill slots the agency is vacating as part of its controversial plan to cull up to 30 full-time IG staff, but which is intensifying Democratic opposition to proposed fiscal year 2008 funding cuts to IG.

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Energy Star Eyed To Help Small Businesses Respond To Climate Policy

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and other committee members are looking to EPA's Energy Star program to help small businesses respond to energy price increases due to climate policies.

Kerry is raising concerns that proposed cuts to EPA's Energy Star program in fiscal year 2008 would prevent the program from conducting energy audits that help small businesses respond to future energy price increases due to climate change requirements.

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Lawmakers Seek To Reverse EPA Bar On Settlement Funds For Diesel Projects

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is seeking to reverse an EPA policy barring use of enforcement settlement funds for diesel retrofit projects, which reduce emissions of harmful pollutants.

Led by Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), the lawmakers are requesting language in EPA's upcoming spending bill to clarify that retrofits can be funded by supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) that stem from EPA enforcement agreements.

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Lawmakers Eye Options To Push Bills On High-Emitting Synfuel Technology

Policymakers from both parties are considering their legislative options for pushing legislation promoting controversial coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuel technology, which many lawmakers view as a way to enhance energy security but which environmentalists fear will increase greenhouse gas (GHG) and other harmful emissions.

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