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EPA is poised to release new policies and tools over the next several months that could bolster development of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects as part of future enforcement settlements and state clean air plans, according to EPA, state and industry sources.

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A measure that would ban cruise ships from discharging raw sewage into state waters passed a key committee this week, but is seen facing a tough road to the governor, according to sources. The cruise ship industry is actively opposing the bill, citing a current voluntary industry ban on such discharges and pointing out that industry is increasingly using advanced wastewater treatment systems before discharging.

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Upcoming EPA Policies Seek To Promote Renewable Energy Projects

EPA is poised to release new policies to promote renewable energy and conservation projects as part of enforcement agreements and state air quality strategies, according agency, state and industry sources.

The effort comes amid increasing concern among policymakers over how to balance growing energy needs and environmental requirements. The concern is particularly acute among local officials who are facing deadlines for developing new state implementation plans (SIPs) for meeting increasingly stringent federal air quality standards.

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EPA Budget Constraints Seen Thwarting Future Enforcement Investigations

Budget constraints are likely to prevent EPA's criminal enforcement division from pursuing investigations like the one that prompted last week's arrest of an economist accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars from utilities participating in a California emissions trading program, according to sources familiar with EPA enforcement issues.

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EPA Decides Against Appealing Contentious Toxics Reporting Ruling

EPA has decided not to appeal a recent federal court ruling that struck down portions of an EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) rule that required the mining industry to report releases of naturally occurring mining wastes.

The agency's decision sets the stage for an expected petition from environmentalists for a new agency rule. Environmentalists say the agency's decision means two billion pounds of toxic materials may go unreported in future years.

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Mediator In TVA Air Act Case Unable To Stave Off Court Ruling

The chief mediator for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has abandoned his attempt to craft a settlement in a high-profile lawsuit where the government sued the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for alleged Clean Air Act violations.

The collapse of the effort leaves little choice but for the court to issue what could be a landmark ruling on the legitimacy of EPA's enforcement actions against the utility industry for alleged violations of new source review rules.

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Legal Battle Over Sulfuric Mist May Prompt Worker Safety Lawsuits

The fertilizer industry is locked in a legal battle with the federal government over the listing of a manufacturing byproduct as a likely carcinogen, which legal experts say could expose the industry to potentially enormous worker safety liability claims. Government agencies and scientists claim that tens of thousands of American workers are exposed each year to sulfuric mist, which is created during a variety of product manufacturing processes.

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Activists Sue Over Prop 65 Chemical Threshold

A pair of environmental and consumer groups with a history of suing companies under California's toxics labeling law, Proposition 65, has sued the state's health hazard assessment office to overturn a recently-adopted reproductive toxicity exposure limit for cadmium. The lawsuit may affect dozens of pending legal proceedings over cadmium exposure, as well as future litigation.

The activists contend the proposed cadmium threshold is much too high and that the compound is a serious danger to human health in very small doses.

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Alaska Appeals Case Buoying EPA Permit Authority To Supreme Court

Alaska is vowing to mount a Supreme Court challenge to a recent federal court ruling affirming EPA's authority to second-guess decisions by state permit authorities, after the court backed an EPA finding that Alaska state officials wrongly failed to require installation of state-of-the-art pollution control technologies at a new facility.

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Court Confirms EPA Authority To Object To State Emissions Decisions

A recent ruling by a federal appeals court has provided an unusual precedent affirming EPA's authority to second guess permitting decisions by state regulators, if the agency believes the state is improperly failing to require installation of state-of-the-art pollution control technologies on a new facility, according to legal experts.

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