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Litigation

INDUSTRY URGES EPA TO NARROW SCOPE OF CIVIL RIGHTS GUIDELINES

Industry officials are calling on EPA to revise its new civil rights guidance that they say could create additional hurdles for permitting industrial plants, arguing that a recent Supreme Court ruling rejects EPA's broad interpretation of the Civil Rights Act.

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WATER ACT PRECEDENT DELAYED AFTER COMPANY HALTS PESTICIDE SPRAYING

A federal court precedent establishing whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires discharge permits for pesticides applied over lands that eventually drift into waters has been delayed after a New England blueberry farmer halted this type of spraying under litigation pressure from environmentalists, the activists say.

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SPLIT RULING ALLOWS GE TO FIGHT EPA ENFORCEMENT OF SUPERFUND LAW

A federal judge is allowing General Electric (GE) to continue its landmark challenge to the way EPA administers a key cleanup enforcement provision of the Superfund law, despite also ruling for EPA that the company had failed to show the provision was unconstitutional on its face.

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ACTIVISTS ON EJ ADVISORY GROUP PAN DEPARTMENTS OVER PILOT PROJECTS

Members of a Cal/EPA equity advisory panel are criticizing agency efforts to establish environmental justice (EJ) pilot projects, saying project proposals suffered from insufficient community outreach leading up to their development. Meanwhile, some activists are raising concerns about the makeup and future of the advisory committee itself, labeling it as "dysfunctional." However committee members say general frustration with the panel is beginning to ebb.

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RULING IN BURBANK WATER PERMIT CASE SEEN INFLUENCING OTHER STATES

The state Supreme Court's landmark decision allowing state regulators to ignore the cost to dischargers before imposing water permit limits that are weaker than federal standards may influence litigation and permits in other states, observers say.

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EPA EVALUATING FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE OFFICE AMID CONCERNS

U.S. EPA is evaluating the future of its Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) as Democratic lawmakers are joining a wide range of observers raising concerns over the fate of OEJ and the Bush Administration's commitment to implementing a Clinton-era executive order on environmental justice.

As many as 20 House Democrats are planning to introduce a bill as soon as April 14 that would require Executive Order 12898 to remain in force until changed by law, while also creating new environmental justice mandates at EPA and across the federal government.

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DISTRICT ATTORNEYS SEE BETTER CAL/EPA ENFORCEMENT COLLABORATION

A state district attorneys (DAs) association says it is seeing better collaboration with Cal/EPA on environmental enforcement cases, which are expected to increase as the agency implements its new enforcement initiative. Despite dwindling resources, DAs say they welcome more environmental enforcement cases.

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EPA Testing Program May Prompt Relaxed Diesel Rule Enforcement

EPA is launching a testing program to assess the accuracy of procedures for measuring the sulfur content of diesel fuel, which could spur additional enforcement flexibility that the oil industry is seeking under a major rule requiring cleaner fuel in highway vehicles beginning in 2006.

EPA has also asked the industry to suggest options for addressing concerns that contamination of the low-sulfur fuel could prevent compliance with the rule's requirements, according to industry and agency sources.

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New Jersey To Issue Rules Settling Industry Suit Over Resource Damages

New Jersey is poised to issue a series of regulations associated with its unprecedented natural resource damages (NRD) enforcement campaign, in exchange for industry dropping a legal challenge to the initiative, according to a recent state document obtained by Inside EPA.

State officials and industry have closely watched the campaign, which the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced in 2003, with industry fearing that other states could launch similar efforts.

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Ruling May Prompt Appeal On 'Innocent' Landowner Defense Under Superfund

A federal court in Maryland has refused to allow an immediate appeal of its earlier ruling that a landowner in a Superfund dispute is entitled to full cost recovery as an "innocent landowner."

The case is significant because while the Superfund statute exempts parties who face cleanup liability if they meet certain criteria, innocent landowner status is rarely granted. "You can count on one hand" the number of cases where the defense has been accepted by the courts, according to an attorney involved in the case.

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