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Toxics

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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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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