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Toxics

GROUPS EYE CHALLENGE TO U.S. RULES ON ESA PESTICIDE CONSULTATION

New rules the Bush Administration says will clarify and improve the registration process for pesticides that may pose a threat to endangered species are being attacked by environmentalists who indicate they may sue to overturn the regulations. Environmentalists say U.S. EPA has for years shirked its responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to consult with federal wildlife agencies on certain pesticide registrations, and instead of making an effort to comply with the law, the administration is now changing the rules to legalize EPA's negligence.

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STRONGER PROTECTION URGED AS PESTICIDE DRIFT BILL FACES KEY TEST

Environmentalists and farm worker advocates this week criticized the state's efforts to prevent pesticide drift poisonings and touted a bill that establishes a fund to cover drift victims' health care costs while improving local response to drift incidents. But the bill, which will likely be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee next week, may now face rough sledding after several of the state's major agricultural organizations recently announced their opposition.

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GROUPS WARN PESTICIDE REGISTRATION REFORMS MAY LESSEN PROTECTION

The pesticides department, anticipating recommendations by the California Performance Review (CPR), has begun implementing reforms of its registration and letters-of-authorization processes. But environmentalists are cautioning against any changes that allow use of U.S. EPA pesticide registration data that do not include California-specific conditions, which they fear may result in approval of potentially hazardous pesticides.

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GROUPS CHARGE OEHHA TRANSFER TO DHS WOULD HURT RISK ASSESSMENT

Environmental and public health groups are charging that a proposal in the California Performance Review (CPR) report to shift the health hazard assessment office from Cal/EPA to the health department would deal a considerable blow to the state's human health protection and chemical risk assessment efforts. But the CPR claims the transfer is logical and actually would boost the amount of resources spent on identifying health risks while reducing significant expenditures on administrative functions.

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GOVERNOR'S DISMISSALS LEAVE PROP. 65 SCIENTIFIC PANELS IN DISARRAY

Multiple dismissals of members of the state's two Proposition 65 scientific panels over the past nine months -- and a dearth of subsequent replacement appointments -- have left both committees foundering, stirring substantial concern among stakeholders. Pressure is building on the governor's office to make new appointments to reenergize the chemical review committees, which former and current panel members charged the former Davis Administration hurt by appointing unqualified scientists.

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Activists Weigh Legal Strategies To Fight Bush Endangered Species Rules

Environmentalists are considering a legal strategy for challenging a controversial Bush administration regulation that streamlines the pesticide review process, a move that may involve raising new arguments in pending cases or filing a new lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Legal observers say ESA litigation initiated by environmentalists could become the venue for the court battle if the government chooses to move for dismissal of several pending cases or if it urges the courts to allow EPA to conduct the new streamlined pesticide review process.

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Senate Talks Sidestep Key Provision In Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

Negotiations in the Senate over the past several months to develop an asbestos victims' trust fund have focused on the size of the compensation fund, but sources on both sides of the issue agree that a provision on how to ensure future claims by plaintiffs, which has not yet been resolved, poses a greater hurdle for passage this year.

Senate Republicans and Democrats have been grappling since June with various proposals on the size of the fund, which would be paid into by industry groups facing liability lawsuits by workers and others exposed to asbestos.

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NAFTA Environment Panel Agrees To Rare Peer Review Of Children's Health Study

An international panel of environmental policy experts formed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has taken the unusual step of allowing an external review of its draft study of toxic chemicals' impact on children's health following criticism of the report by EPA, the Canadian government and industry groups. Critics argue the panel's report wrongly equates disposal of wastes in regulated landfills with releases into the environment and improperly links waste releases to children's exposure.

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EPA Seeks Further Testing In Delaying Asbestos Demolition Decision

EPA is delaying a decision on whether to approve a controversial method for demolishing asbestos-contaminated buildings until it completes additional testing on the technique's safety, despite previously backing the method. Critics say the method, which is less costly than normal practice, is not as protective as current standards, arguing that EPA approval could lead to its widespread use.

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SEC DOWNPLAYS CALL FOR PACT WITH EPA TO IMPROVE DISCLOSURE SCRUTINY

The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) appears to be resisting calls from congressional investigators to formalize a data-sharing agreement with EPA to improve its oversight of corporate environmental disclosure, according to EPA and SEC officials.

A top EPA enforcement official says SEC scrutiny of corporate environmental disclosures is not a top priority for commission officials. SEC officials also told Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators that they see no need to improve the current data-sharing regime.

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