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Litigation

CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT OF NANOTECH MAY SHIFT TO REGULATORY FOCUS

As Congress reconvenes in the coming weeks, some observers expect that lawmakers will refocus their attention on the regulation of nanotechnology, after holding hearings last year on research gaps and funding needs posed by the emerging technology.

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NEW NANOTECH LAW SHOULD FOCUS ON LIMITING RISKS, KEY REPORT URGES

A just-released report on addressing risks posed by nanomaterials is recommending that any new law regulating the technology focus on preventing risks posed by the emerging products, as opposed to the remediation of pollution and exposure, which most current environmental laws target.

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LABOR INTERESTS, TRIAL LAWYERS CRITICIZE EPA ASBESTOS ABATEMENT PLAN

A new method EPA is proposing to control waste and emissions from asbestos in buildings being demolished is being criticized by labor unions and trial lawyers, who say the plan may violate worker protection and environmental laws and does not reflect typical demolition efforts involving the contaminant, which is a known carcinogen.

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CITIZENS GROUP FIGHTS ARMY MOVE TO LIFT LIVE-FIRE TRAINING BAN

A Hawaiian community group is asking a federal district court to deny the Army's recent request to lift prohibitions under a 2001 settlement agreement on live-fire training on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, which the Army says it needs to train troops for Iraq.

The dispute has drawn national attention as an acute conflict between environmental law and military training needs in the post-Sept. 11 world.

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RULING MAY BOOST LOCAL OVERSIGHT OF FEDERAL FACILITY CLEANUPS

A recent federal court ruling enjoining EPA from releasing a proposed cleanup plan for a former military facility until it gives a local government the plan and the data used to support it is a win for municipalities, who have long argued that federal Superfund law entitles them to a greater role in selecting cleanup remedies than EPA has acknowledged, according to observers. The ruling could have an effect at BRAC sites, just as DOD is beginning to implement the 2005 round of base closures.

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INDUSTRY ATTORNEYS PLAN TO CITE DOD STUDY IN PERCHLORATE LITIGATION

Attorneys for industries targeted in lawsuits alleging perchlorate groundwater contamination are contemplating using a recent Defense Department (DOD) study that suggests Chilean fertilizer imported into the country early in the century could be a significant source of perchlorate contamination, in an effort to deflect legal responsibility for the pollution.

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DOD PERCHLORATE PACT COULD UNDERMINE INDUSTRY BID TO FIX AVIALL

The Defense Department's recent multi-million dollar settlement for perchlorate cleanup costs at a Nevada facility could undermine future industry efforts to have Congress amend Superfund law to overcome limits on parties' ability to pursue cleanup contribution claims following the Supreme Court's Aviall ruling, industry sources say.

Industry sources say that because the case had raised concerns from Senate environment committee chairman James Inhofe (R-OK), the settlement could limit Inhofe's future interest in the issue.

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LANDMARK OKLAHOMA CAFO LITIGATION FACES SUPREME COURT HURDLE

The state of Oklahoma's efforts to hold concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) liable under federal Superfund law for animal wastes is facing a challenge from its neighboring state of Arkansas, which is asking the Supreme Court to intervene on constitutional grounds.

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APPELLATE CALL FOR CORPS BRIEF BUOYS ACTIVISTS' MOUNTAINTOP PERMIT SUIT

A federal appellate court has taken the unusual step of asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to respond to an environmentalists' request that the court reconsider its earlier decision supporting the Corps' controversial program allowing general permits for mountaintop mining -- which has buoyed environmentalists' hopes that the court will reexamine a ruling with broad implications for environmental permitting.

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ACTIVISTS' BRIEF ACCUSES EPA OF REVERSING STANCE IN LANDMARK ESA CASE

Environmentalists are arguing that an appellate court should not re-hear a landmark Endangered Species Act (ESA) case because EPA and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) are advancing new arguments that are at odds with the agencies' previous statements.

The case, Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. EPA, et al., is drawing national attention because it broadens EPA's duties under the species law to consider the impact of its actions under the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws.

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