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Waste

IG CRITICIZES EPA'S MANAGEMENT OF SUPERFUND ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS

EPA's Inspector General (IG) is criticizing the agency's management of administrative costs of the Superfund program. But an agency source says that it is a decrease in the agency's buying power, and not an increase in administrative costs, that is the reason for any downturn in the number of sites addressed under Superfund.

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EPA NIXES REGIONAL CALL TO RETURN SUPERFUND STAFF FROM OTHER OFFICES

EPA has rejected a call from its regional offices to return Superfund staff who conduct Superfund-related work for other programs, according to an EPA source familiar with meetings on the issue. The source says there are more Superfund staff in other offices than the waste cleanup program itself.

A high-level EPA waste official declined to comment on the regional request, saying, "That whole discussion took place as part of the [fiscal year] '06 budget discussions. That was the context in which it played out."

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U.S. OFFERS CANADA 'CONSULTATIVE' ROLE IN CROSS-BORDER WASTE DISPUTE

The U.S. State Department is offering the Canadian government a "consultative" role in designing the cleanup of a Washington state lake to help resolve a diplomatic dispute instigated when EPA accused a Canadian company of transporting toxic mining waste across the border, according to documents obtained by Superfund Report.

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APPELLATE RULING MAY LIMIT GROUPS' ACCESS TO COURTS, EXPERTS SAY

A recent appellate ruling dismissing an environmental group's attempt to stop a Forest Service timber sale on the grounds that a different environmental group had already sought to litigate the issue sets a disturbing precedent that could block industry and environmental groups' access to courts, legal experts and some environmentalists warn.

These sources say the ruling may set a precedent by expanding a legal doctrine -- known as privity -- that is used to determine when parties in litigation share similar interests that may bar them from pursuing separate litigation.

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6TH CIRCUIT DECLINES TO BROADEN LANDMARK AIR RULING TO SUPERFUND

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to expand to the Superfund law the application of a landmark decision in which the 11th Circuit invalidated on constitutional due process grounds administrative penalties EPA levied under the Clean Air Act.

In Gurley v. United States, the 6th Circuit ruled that the 11th Circuit's landmark decision in Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) v. Whitman did not apply to Superfund law provisions allowing EPA to collect penalties when a defendant fails to respond to agency information requests.

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REVIEW SOUGHT FOR RULING ON RECOVERY FOR ESTIMATED CLEANUP COSTS

A waste transportation company is urging a federal appeals court to review its earlier precedent-setting ruling that allowed two chemical companies to seek Superfund cleanup contribution costs based on the estimated costs of a remedy that has yet to be completed.

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CASE MAY ALLOW DOJ TO TARGET LIMITS ON OVERSIGHT COST RECOVERY

A recent federal district court decision may present an opportunity for the federal government to challenge a long-standing legal precedent that prevents recovery of Superfund oversight costs, industry attorneys say.

The ruling also sets a precedent that limits the government's ability to recover attorneys' fees, according to the ruling.

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EPA NIXES REGIONAL CALL TO RETURN SUPERFUND STAFF FROM OTHER OFFICES

EPA has rejected a call from its regional offices to return Superfund staff who conduct Superfund-related work for other programs, according to an EPA source familiar with meetings on the issue. The source says there are more Superfund staff in other offices than the waste cleanup program itself.

A high-level EPA waste official declined to comment on the regional request, saying, "That whole discussion took place as part of the [fiscal year] '06 budget discussions. That was the context in which it played out."

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INDUSTRY-OPPOSED S.F. BAG FEE MAY BOOST STALLED STATE EFFORTS

In a move some observers say could help revive a statewide initiative to boost recycling and cut the amount of garbage going to landfills, San Francisco officials this week are expected to take a step toward enacting a 25-cent fee on paper and plastic bags distributed at grocery stores. But industry groups are opposing the city of San Francisco's efforts, arguing, among other things, that a "bag tax" is unnecessary and will likely hit the poorest consumers the hardest.

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Waste Office Warns New Children's Toxics Website May Alarm Public

Officials in EPA's Superfund program are raising concerns about new information posted on EPA's website about toxins and children's health, warning that the information could unnecessarily alarm communities that live near contaminated sites, agency sources say.

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