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Toxics

EPA Delay Of Pesticide Review Sparks Concern By Environmentalists

EPA's decision this week to cancel a scientific panel review of the potential health risks from a widely used pesticide, dimethoate, has prompted charges from environmentalists that the agency may be avoiding addressing the issue. The controversy could raise concerns about the risk assessment process the agency followed for a category of pesticides known as organophosphates.

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EPA's Boron Risk Review Reflects Revised Process To Boost Scientific Certainty

EPA is poised to release a revised risk assessment for boron next week that will significantly relax controversial safety factors that are intended to compensate for scientific uncertainties, a move that agency sources say could lead to less stringent regulation of the mineral, which is widely used in manufacturing. The risk assessment marks the first of its type by EPA in its push for a more data-driven approach to minimize scientific uncertainties about the impact of environmental contaminants.

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DPR STILL PROBES POSSIBLE MILL VIOLATIONS, DESPITE BILL'S FAILURE

While a bill that sought to require the Department of Pesticide Regulation to investigate whether all retailers are paying the mill assessment died in the Assembly last month, DPR is "continuing its cooperative efforts with industry" to ensure that pesticide dealers are complying with the law by paying the fee. At press time, lawmakers were preparing a letter to the department encouraging it to keep up its efforts to investigate non-compliance with the state's mill fee requirements, according to a legislative source.

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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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