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Litigation

ACTIVISTS SEEK TO EXTEND PERMIT LIMITS ON MOUNTAINTOP MINING

Environmental groups are seeking to extend a contentious federal court ban on mountaintop coal mining in a key part of West Virginia to Kentucky.

The groups are arguing that the Army Corps of Engineers is unlawfully using Clean Water Act general permits to allow massive mine waste disposal in streams when the permits are only intended for activities that have a limited environmental impact.

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ACTIVISTS' SUIT MAY BE TEST FOR LEGALITY OF ASBESTOS ABATEMENT PLAN

Public interest attorneys are challenging a controversial method for abating asbestos-contaminated structures in a case that could be a test for whether the method violates federal law, sources say.

The upcoming suit comes as local government officials are calling on EPA to allow the use of the method, which reduces the cost of demolishing asbestos-contaminated buildings that are common in urban areas.

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INDUSTRY FEARS SWEEPING IMPACT FROM TRANSBOUNDARY POLLUTION SUIT

U.S. industry groups are urging a federal appeals court to overturn a recent district court ruling that found federal Superfund law can apply to transboundary contamination, saying the decision could prompt widespread retaliation against U.S. companies by a host of foreign governments over air and water pollution that crosses international borders.

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STATES URGE APPEALS COURT TO OVERTURN RULING LIMITING NRD CLAIMS

The attorneys general of 14 states are urging a federal appeals court to overturn a court ruling from last year that industry and the federal government have cited to argue that states have limited ability to pursue natural resource damage (NRD) claims.

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PACT MAY HELP ACTIVISTS FIGHT RESULTS OF EPA STUDY ON CAFO EMISSIONS

A recent settlement between environmentalists and a major poultry producer will provide activists detailed data on toxic agricultural emissions, which they could use to challenge the results of a study EPA will conduct as part of its controversial safe harbor agreement with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

EPA officials say they may use the results of their study to determine whether CAFO emissions can be exempted from permit requirements under the Clean Air Act.

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DOJ OFFICIAL BLUNTS INDUSTRY HOPES FOR BACKING IN SUPERFUND COST CASE

The Justice Department's (DOJ) top environmental attorney is dampening hopes that the administration may back an alternative legal avenue for recovering Superfund cleanup costs following the Supreme Court's recent Aviall ruling.

DOJ environment chief Thomas Sansonetti told Inside Washington Publishers on Jan. 18 that the only options for addressing the ruling were for EPA to boost its enforcement resources or for Congress to amend the law.

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DOD PLAN FOR MIGRATING POLLUTANTS COULD BOLSTER CASE FOR RRPI

The Defense Department (DOD) is floating a first-time policy for addressing munitions constituents that migrate off operational ranges that could bolster military arguments for limiting regulators' cleanup authorities at these ranges in its controversial Readiness & Range Preservation Initiative (RRPI) bill.

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POTWS SEEK SANITARY SEWER POLICY TO CURTAIL COSTLY EPA ENFORCEMENT

Wastewater treatment officials have sent a sewer overflow action plan to EPA that urges the agency to develop a national sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) policy, arguing that the agency's current enforcement policies requiring zero discharges force publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) to spend large amounts of money with little return.

The call for a national policy comes in the wake of failed Clinton administration efforts to promulgate a regulation governing SSOs.

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EPA OFFICIAL URGES UTILITIES TO LIMIT PUSH FOR EMISSIONS TRADING FLEXIBILITY

TUCSON, AZ -- A top EPA air official is urging the electric utility industry to use discretion in pushing for greater flexibility under Clear Skies legislation and the agency's clean air interstate rule (CAIR) because support for the cap-and-trade approaches in both plans depends on them being environmentally credible and economically sustainable.

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SETTLEMENT COULD END LANDMARK LAWSUIT OVER INVASIVE SPECIES TMDLS

Environmentalists and EPA have reached a deal that will delay, and possibly call off, landmark litigation over whether aquatic invasive species constitute pollutants under the Clean Water Act (CWA) -- and whether EPA and states must set total maximum daily loads for waters impaired by them.

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