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Water

HIGH COURT RULINGS COULD LIMIT CITIZEN SUITS AGAINST EPA, AGENCIES

The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in an environmental decision last month could broadly shield EPA and other federal agencies from citizen suits seeking to force the government to take action to protect the environment, according to court watchers, legal experts and environmental attorneys.

Some sources say the ruling could limit suits against EPA that allege the agency failed to ensure states implement their air quality plans, while others suggest it could shield EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from suits alleging that they failed to protect wetlands.

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IG SAYS EPA FAILS TO ASSESS ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF CLEAN WATER FUND

EPA is failing to measure the water quality benefits of its clean water infrastructure funding program, a problem the agency recognizes and is vowing to address by creating proposed indicators, according to a new study by EPA's internal watchdog.

A study issued this month by EPA's inspector general (IG) says agency water officials must improve their ability to measure the environmental effects of the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF), which provides money to states for upgrading sewage treatment infrastructure, among other projects.

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INDUSTRY QUESTIONS CHARACTERIZATION OF LANDFILL DISPOSAL IN TRI DATA

The waste treatment and other industries claim separate reports issued by EPA and a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel wrongly equate disposal of waste in regulated landfills with releases into the environment, according to industry sources and documents.

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EPA COMPLIANCE PLAN SEEKS TO SIDESTEP OIL AND GAS PERMIT DELAYS

EPA issued a directive last month that allows new discharges from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas platforms as the agency works to finalize delayed Clean Water Act (CWA) permit requirements for the facilities. The action follows criticism from industry and at least one federal lawmaker that the delayed CWA requirements were slowing oil and gas production.

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DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT SOUGHT FOR BILL GIVING SYSTEMS ARSENIC RELIEF

Backers of a newly introduced bill requiring states to permanently exempt small water systems from EPA's arsenic and other drinking water rules are seeking Democratic support for the measure before deciding whether to try attaching it as a legislative rider to EPA's spending bill, small water system sources say.

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SUIT TESTS U.S. AGENCIES' LIABILITY FOR WATER UTILITIES' STORMWATER FEES

Municipal wastewater treatment officials are preparing to file amicus briefs in a case that may set a precedent on whether federal facilities are required to pay user fees to the utilities that handle their stormwater runoff.

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EPA Enforcement Directive Allows New Water Discharges From Gulf Drilling

A new EPA directive will allow new water discharges from oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico while the agency works to complete Clean Water Act permit requirements for the facilities. The directive was issued following criticism from industry and a member of Congress that the delayed water act requirements were slowing oil and gas production and exacerbating rising fuel prices.

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EPA IMPOSES NEW COST-BENEFIT REVIEWS TO COMPLY WITH OMB GUIDANCE

EPA is expanding its internal review process for assessing pending regulations to comply with recent White House requirements for agency cost-benefit and other economic analyses, according to a recent agency memo obtained by Inside Washington Publishers.

The new process, which requires EPA's Office of Policy, Economics & Innovation (OPEI) to conduct additional reviews of regulatory cost-benefit analysis for major rules, is drawing strong criticism from officials across the agency who expect the extra studies to add months to the current review process.

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CALIFORNIA STUDY MAY PRESSURE EPA TO TIGHTEN KID'S PROTECTIONS

A California study that found the state's ozone air quality standards fail to adequately protect children and other sensitive groups could put pressure on EPA to strengthen its children protection requirements, according to public health advocates, state officials and environmentalists.

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TWO HIGH COURT RULINGS MAY LIMIT CITIZEN SUITS AGAINST EPA, AGENCIES

The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in an environmental decision last month could broadly shield EPA and other executive branch agencies from citizen suits seeking to force agency action to protect the environment, while an earlier decision allowing Mexican trucks into the United States may also limit citizen suits under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), according to court watchers, legal experts and environmental attorneys.

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