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Boxer Seeks Perchlorate Monitoring, Health Level As Interim Measure

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the chair of the Environment & Public Works Chairman, is pushing EPA to establish a perchlorate health advisory level and a contamination monitoring program as a set of interim measures to address the ubiquitous contaminant until EPA decides whether to set an enforceable drinking water standard.

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Uncertainty Over Key House Subcommittee Prompts Concerns

Uncertainty over who will chair a key House subcommittee with jurisdiction over waste and water issues is raising concern among some Democrats and environmentalists, who fear the chairmanship could go to a member of Congress that lacks a strong environmental voting record.

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Democrats Oppose DHS Plan To Preempt State Chemical Security Rules

Democratic lawmakers are drafting legislation to block language in pending Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chemical security regulations that would preempt states from setting more stringent standards than the federal plan. The legislative effort comes as activists complain that DHS's preemption language is based on weak legal arguments.

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Uncertainty Ensures Court, Hill Action On Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

The Supreme Court's fractured 2006 ruling on when Clean Water Act (CWA) protections apply to waterbodies and wetlands assures that federal courts, Congress and EPA will continue to grapple with the issue in the coming year.

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Farm Bill Push Renews Doubts Of Ethanol's Environmental Benefits

Upcoming efforts to further boost the use of ethanol through the 2007 Farm Bill and other legislation is prompting renewed doubt about the fuel's environmental benefits, particularly its relative inefficiency in reducing greenhouse gases and its growing contribution to air and water pollution.

The concerns are prompting policymakers and many environmentalists to push for ensuring that any new measures to encourage increased ethanol production also include new requirements to limit the fuel's environmental harms.

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GOP Split On Environment May Limit Options For Bipartisan Cooperation

Republicans are struggling to find a unified message on the environment for the 110th Congress given intra-party disputes over whether to embrace an affirmative environmental agenda designed to recapture moderate Democrats and independent voters in 2008 or stick to more conservative themes that emphasize deregulatory approaches.

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Despite Criticism Of GOP, Democrats May Shift Focus Of Preemption

Despite criticizing Republican measures that preempted state environmental and public safety laws, Democratic lawmakers are likely to continue preempting state laws but apply federal powers to different areas than Republicans, state sources and other observers says.

Key issues potentially ripe for federal preemption include new rules regulating climate change emissions, as well as the scope of the Clean Water Act and some land management issues, sources say.

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Democrats Struggle For Balance With New Environmental Oversight

The new Democratic majority in Congress is struggling to balance its intent for increased oversight of EPA policies with the political need to assert a positive agenda for achieving progress on longstanding environmental and public health risks, according to congressional and other sources. The outcome could be a limited, targeted approach to oversight in the coming year that will lay the groundwork for future legislative and budget changes.

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Early Action On Energy Poses Challenge For Climate Change Push

Promises by Democratic leaders to push a slew of clean energy initiatives in the 110th Congress provide a new opening for policies that help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but may pose dangers for environmentalists and other advocates of strict GHG emissions limits who fear lawmakers will be under pressure to settle for symbolic rather than ambitious efforts to limit climate change.

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New Hill Rules Offer Mixed Prospects For Environment, Energy Budgets

Strict budget rules congressional Democrats plan to implement when they take control of the 110th Congress could hamper lawmakers' efforts to expand a slew of environmental measures, including increased spending levels for water infrastructure projects and expanded clean-energy tax incentives, but could result in some increased spending for EPA and other discretionary environmental programs, environmentalists say.

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