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Water

LAWMAKERS EYE STRONGER CEQA EXEMPTION TO FOSTER INFILL DEVELOPMENT

Lawmakers are expected to propose legislation next session amending the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to foster development of infill areas -- urban vacant lots already surrounded by housing or commercial buildings. Most stakeholders say CEQA reforms are crucial because the law currently allows opponents of such development to effectively kill projects through prolonged litigation.

But environmentalists are wary of new CEQA changes based on the fear they will go too far and result in threats to the environment, public safety, parks and open green spaces in cities.

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WATER BOARD REBUTTAL OF CPR PLAN STRESSES PUBLIC INPUT VALUE

In rebutting a major California Performance Review (CPR) report recommendation to replace Cal/EPA boards with departments, a regional water board last week laid out a spirited defense of the current system to the agency secretary. Public access afforded by the board structure has resulted in significant environmental accomplishments that may not have occurred through a department setting, the regional board argues.

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California Officials Seek Water Act Revisions To Limit Impact Of Court Ruling

Sewer officials in California are asking Congress to revise the Clean Water Act to narrow the impact of a landmark court ruling in the state that facilities must obtain permits for discharges that indirectly affect navigable water bodies, sources say.

The ruling could significantly expand the number of wastewater treatment facilities that need to obtain discharge permits, which to date have been limited to facilities that release directly to navigable water bodies.

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Key GOP Senator Rejects EPA Concerns In Push For CAFOs Exemption

Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) is proceeding with legislative attempts to exempt concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from environmental reporting requirements, despite EPA concerns the push could hamper agency efforts to obtain additional data on CAFO emissions, a Craig staffer says.

"We're moving ahead," the source says. Craig, who is the fourth most senior Republican in Senate, is planning to push the reporting exclusions as a floor amendment to the VA-HUD appropriations bill that funds EPA.

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Utilities Cite Study In Push To Delay EPA Drinking Water Rule

Drinking water utility officials are urging EPA to delay a rule that could force them to change the disinfectants they use to treat water because of concerns that the new disinfectant -- intended as an alternative to chlorine -- creates more toxic byproducts than those the rule was intended to reduce.

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ACTIVISTS FACE HIGH HURDLES IN FORCING EPA TO WITHDRAW WETLANDS GUIDE

Environmentalists could face an uphill battle in forcing the Bush administration to withdraw a controversial guidance that activists say narrowly interprets what waters are subject to federal regulation, despite arguments in a recent EPA legal filing that support a broad definition of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

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REGIONS PUSH LOCAL OFFICIALS FOR STRICT MERCURY LIMITS IN WATER PERMITS

Regional EPA officials are urging state and local regulators to require strict numeric discharge limits in their water permits based on the amount of mercury in fish tissue -- despite the agency's support for a more flexible approach in a pending draft guidance.

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UTILITIES URGE EPA TO DELAY ISSUING CONTENTIOUS DRINKING WATER RULE

Drinking water utility officials are urging EPA not to finalize a rule that could force them to change the disinfectant they use to treat drinking water because of concerns raised in a recent study that the new disinfectant -- intended as an alternative to chlorine -- creates more toxic byproducts than those the rule was intended to minimize.

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EPA OFFSHORE PERMIT WILL TEST USE OF STATE STANDARDS IN U.S. WATERS

EPA's recent decision to include California water standards in a permit for oil drilling discharges into federal waters will likely spark litigation on whether states can force their pollutant limits on facilities beyond state boundaries, an EPA source says.

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WSPA SUIT EXPECTED ON EPA OFFSHORE OIL PERMIT APPLYING STATE RULES

Environmentalists say they are "pleasantly surprised" by U.S. EPA's decision to incorporate California Ocean Plan (COP) standards in its newly finalized general permit for discharges from offshore oil platforms, though it is now widely assumed that the oil industry will challenge the permit. In issuing the permit, EPA said it is incorporating the state standards at the insistence of the coastal commission, though it disagrees that the oil rigs are legally required under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) to comply with COP standards at the point of discharge.

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