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Toxics

USDA WOOD-PACKAGING RULE REQUIRING METHYL BROMIDE FACES OPPOSITION

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is about to finalize a rule that would require international shippers to kill pests by fumigating raw wood packaging with either the ozone-depleting substance methyl bromide or heat treatment, but the rule is facing opposition both by environmental groups and possibly other government agencies participating in international talks to phase out the substance.

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EPA'S 'RESIDUAL RISK' AIR TOXICS PLAN DRAWS IRE OF PUBLIC HEALTH GROUPS

EPA's proposal for the first-ever "residual risk" air toxics standard could set important precedents for upcoming rules of the same kind, according to environmentalists who charge that the methods EPA used to set the pollution limits in the standard are insufficient to protect public health.

However, EPA officials defend the landmark plan and say it does everything feasible to lower health risks from industry.

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CARB WEIGHS MULTIPLE FACTORS TO DEFINE LARGE FARMS FOR REGULATION

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is embarking on a complicated effort to define large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for regulation under a controversial state law passed last year that lifted a decades-old regulatory exemption for the facilities. Farm and dairy organizations that have expressed skepticism over initial formulas used to define large CAFOs are closely following the air board approach because it will determine how many dairies will be regulated statewide, and perhaps across the country.

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EPA OPENS DOOR TO FINALIZING CAFO AIR PACT WITHOUT PUBLIC INPUT

EPA officials may bar the public from commenting on a controversial agreement temporarily exempting concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from enforcement, despite a commitment to a key Democratic senator last year that the agency would seek public comment on a draft version of the agreement before it was finalized.

One EPA source would not discuss specific plans on the agreement, but said the agency has made no final decisions on its release. "We're still considering how to proceed with this," the source says.

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Critics Say EPA's 'Residual Risk' Air Toxics Plan Fails To Protect Public Health

EPA's proposal for the first-ever "residual risk" air toxics standard could set important precedents for upcoming rules of the same kind, according to environmentalists who charge that the methods EPA used to set the residual risk limits are insufficient to protect public health.

However, EPA officials defend the landmark plan by saying it does everything feasible to lower health risks from industrial facilities.

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Study On Flame Retardants Renews Industry's Safety Claims

A new study showing high levels of a class of flame retardant chemicals in farmed salmon failed to find significant amounts of the most widely used toxin in that class -- prompting industry to claim that growing efforts to ban the compound should be dropped.

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ACTIVISTS TARGET FARMS IN LAWSUIT EYEING WATER PERMITS FOR PESTICIDES

Environmentalists are threatening to sue New England blueberry farmers for aerial application of pesticides without Clean Water Act (CWA) permits, backing industry fears that prior court decisions requiring the permits for applications under other conditions could prompt activists to target agricultural spraying.

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Judge's Comments Prompt EPA Rule To Allow Export Of PCB-Tainted Ships

EPA is considering a petition from the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to conduct a formal rulemaking exempting ships laden with PCBs from legal requirements banning the export of the toxins after a federal judge questioned whether EPA's earlier plan to grant an exemption without a rulemaking was lawful.

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EPA Inaction Prompts Industry To Seek Court Order On Lead Reporting

Despite EPA efforts over the past several years to review and possibly revise a controversial rule on reporting lead use and releases, a group representing small businesses is pushing a federal court for an immediate ruling to repeal the standard. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently filed a motion for summary judgment in its three-year-old lawsuit against the reporting requirements after EPA officials said it would be at least another year before the agency might revise the standard.

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EPA BORON RISK REVIEW REFLECTS NEW WAY TO BOOST SCIENTIFIC CERTAINTY

EPA is poised to release a revised risk assessment for boron that will significantly relax controversial safety factors intended to compensate for scientific uncertainties, which agency sources say could lead to less stringent regulation of the widely used mineral.

The risk assessment, slated to be released this week, marks one of the first assessments EPA is issuing in its push for a more data-driven approach to minimize scientific uncertainties about environmental contaminants' impacts.

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