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Toxics

VOC EMISSIONS REPORT MAY STRENGTHEN ACTIVIST LAWSUIT AGAINST DPR

A recently released pesticides department report could strengthen a lawsuit accusing the department of not meeting volatile organic compound (VOC) emission reduction targets mandated by the 1994 State Implementation Plan (SIP), according to one environmentalist. The report shows that VOC emissions have increased in some nonattainment areas across the state and offers additional findings that the department acknowledges will soon require further action.

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EPA Decision On Agricultural Burning May Thwart Environmentalists

EPA's proposed approval of changes to Idaho's air quality strategy that would allow farmers to burn grass fields could make it more difficult for environmentalists to challenge the public health risks of the practice, which is widespread throughout the Northwest.

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SCHOOL PESTICIDE BAN AGAIN DEAD IN SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE

A controversial measure that would have banned some of the most toxic pesticides from being used at schools is likely dead for the year, after the bill's author would not agree to an amendment that a powerful lawmaker insisted was necessary for the bill to clear his committee, supporters of the legislation said.

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DESPITE LEGAL LOSS, GENERIC PESTICIDE MAKERS TOUT DPR REFORMS

Although a generic pesticides industry group recently lost a lawsuit against the pesticides department over alleged federal violations within California's registration process, reforms proposed by the department could serve to respond to the industry's major concerns. The proposed reforms would streamline the registration process, making it simpler for generic pesticide manufacturers to register pesticides for sale and use in California, possibly lowering costs to consumers statewide.

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DPR DIRECTOR BLASTS WATER BOARD AQUATIC PESTICIDE PERMIT DECISION

Outgoing pesticides department director Paul Helliker, anticipating severe regulatory overlap, this week blasted the water board's recent approval of a controversial aquatic pesticides general permit that increases monitoring requirements on pesticide applicators. Although environmentalists, pesticide applicators and water board staff are scheduled to meet later this month to negotiate a possible regional monitoring program for the permit, Helliker called the permit an example of the need for government reform to lessen duplicative regulatory action.

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MORE PROMINENT DPR ROLE PLANNED FOR PESTICIDE DRIFT RESPONSE BILL

Significant changes are expected to be made to a pesticide drift response bill, including amendments that would specify a larger role for the pesticides department and reduce the level of fee funding for the new program. The bill, which is drawing some initial concerns from agriculture organizations, was introduced largely in response to a couple of drift incidents last month that sickened farm workers in Kern County.

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DPR CHIEF HELLIKER RESIGNS; GOSSELIN SEEN AS POTENTIAL SUCCESSOR

Paul Helliker is resigning as director of the pesticides department effective June 18 to take a job at a Bay Area water district in a move he says is wholly unrelated to the change in administration. There are no plans yet to name a replacement at the department, according to Cal/EPA, though several names have been bandied about in the past as possible successors, including current deputy director Paul Gosselin.

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Industry Criticizes EPA Plan To Cut Funds For Pesticide Use Training Program

Pesticide makers are urging EPA to avoid proposed cuts in funding for state programs that train sprayers of highly toxic pesticides, and are recommending that the agency set aside money in future budget proposals to Congress to guarantee funding for the programs. The industry says the proposed cuts would result in fewer people who are licensed to use these chemicals.

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USDA REORGANIZATION COULD BOOST PROGRAMS' WATER QUALITY BENEFITS

A pending reorganization of the Agriculture Department's (USDA) conservation agency may help resolve the agency's long-standing inability to measure water quality gains from its conservation programs, as evidenced in a recent agency decision to restrict farmer enrollment in a key program because it lacked the technology to quantify these gains, environmentalists say.

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LAWSUIT TESTS EPA GUIDE ON WATER PERMIT NEEDS FOR PESTICIDE USE

A pending federal lawsuit by an Idaho county against EPA could be the basis for an eventual appellate ruling testing the legality of a controversial agency guidance that exempts many pesticide applications from Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements.

Many pesticide applicators, including mosquito control districts and farmers, fear EPA's guidance leaves them exposed to citizen suits claiming that pesticide applications over and into waters require clean water permits.

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