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Democrats Eye Tighter Scrutiny Of New EPA Rule, Risk Review Processes

House Democrats and environmentalists are vowing to push for increased transparency in the implementation of a Bush administration order changing the process for reviewing EPA and other agencies' regulations, as well as pending White House-backed changes to EPA's risk review process, in part because they acknowledge they have few options for blocking the administration's moves outright.

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EPA To Expand Financial Assurance Focus Under Environmental Laws

EPA is expanding its enforcement priorities under federal environmental laws to ensure that companies have adequate financial assurances in place to clean up contamination at polluted sites, according to a top EPA enforcement official.

The effort comes as senators are pressing legislation that would force EPA to strengthen existing financial assurance requirements and develop new ones for a variety of industrial facilities. However, questions remain over whether the bill is necessary now that the agency is vowing to expand its financial assurance enforcement emphasis.

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Kerry Seeks Middle Ground On CO2 Reductions With New Climate Bill

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is touting his new legislation as the middle ground among several competing proposals to deal with climate change, while casting doubt on a more ambitious proposal touted by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

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Democrat Lifts EPA Nominee Hold After Agency Tightens Benzene Rule

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is lifting his hold on EPA's general counsel nominee following the agency's last-minute decision to restrict the number of refineries that can buy emissions credits to comply with the agency's new rule on benzene fuel limits, in response to concerns from Northwest lawmakers.

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Draft Bush CAFE Bill Seeks To Limit Court Jurisdiction In Legal Disputes

The Bush administration is circulating a draft bill amending corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirements that would give the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit exclusive jurisdiction to hear legal disputes over vehicle efficiency standards and would codify contested standards for light trucks now being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

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States Warn EPA Budget Cuts May Hamper Key Program Implementation

Proposed cuts to EPA's fiscal year 2008 budget may undercut states' ability to implement key clean air, water and waste programs mandated by federal law, state officials and others are warning in response to President Bush's new budget request to Congress that continues his trend of shrinking the agency's funding each year.

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Democrats Face Grassroots Push For Stronger Environmental Justice Plans

Congressional Democrats, who are working to tighten federal environmental justice (EJ) and civil rights policies, are facing growing pressure from grassroots groups to strengthen legislative proposals that activists say do not go far enough to protect low-income and minority communities from pollution.

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Administration Farm Bill Plan Pushes Funds For Water Credit Trading

The Bush administration's newly released 2007 Farm Bill proposal includes an increased emphasis on water quality credit trading, recommending $50 million to develop uniform standards for quantifying credits, establishing credit registries, and offering credit audit and certification services.

Additionally the proposal calls for streamlining several conservation programs and using the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to encourage growing perennial crops as a biomass reserve for cellulosic energy production.

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Pact Paves Way For Pelosi Panel To Coordinate House Climate Debate

House Democratic leaders appear to have struck an agreement that paves the way for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to create a controversial Select Committee on Energy Independence & Climate Change, while allowing the standing committees to proceed to write legislation that addresses the causes and effects of climate change.

A key lawmaker says the select committee will likely play a "useful role" in the climate change debate by coordinating witnesses and testimony for the several standing committees that share jurisdiction on the issue.

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EPA To Ask Congress To Relax Rules For State Fuel Tank Inspections

EPA will ask Congress to provide states more flexibility to meet stringent new compliance and inspection requirements for underground fuel tanks that were outlined in the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT).

Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson made the announcement Feb. 5 at a briefing with reporters to discuss the administration's fiscal year 2008 budget, which seeks $72.4 million for the underground storage tank (UST) program, a slight decrease from the previous year's request of $72.7 million.

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