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Water

RULING PROMPTS LOBBYING FOR LIMITING WATER ACT CITIZEN SUIT PROVISIONS

Wastewater and municipal groups are asking Congress to narrow the conditions for filing Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suits to stem the potential widespread impact of a landmark California ruling requiring facilities to obtain clean water permits for discharges to waterbodies with only groundwater connections to navigable waters, sources say.

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NATIONAL COMMISSION SUGGESTS MARINE SPECIES PROTECTION CHANGES

A national commission on ocean policy is recommending changes to laws and management governing marine species protection that would affect regulation under marine mammal and endangered species laws. The suggestions are among more than 200 recommendations included in An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, a report released Sept. 20 that advises the federal government and Congress on strengthening national ocean policy to ensure sustainable use and protection of the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.

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KEY GOP SENATOR REJECTS EPA CONCERNS IN PUSH FOR CAFO 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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WATER UTILITY OFFICIALS FEAR CONSEQUENCES OF NEW DHS SECURITY NETWORK

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) creation of a new information network for giving utilities water security updates may cause confusion and tax existing security resources, water utility sources say, since it is unclear how the new network will affect the existing, privately-run water Information Sharing & Analysis Center (ISAC) that fulfills a similar function.

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CALIFORNIA LAWS MAY BE MODEL FOR SCALING BACK CRUISE SHIP POLLUTION

Environmentalists plan to urge other states to follow California's lead by passing legislation that seeks to ban wastewater dumping from cruise ships, included in one of three new California state laws addressing pollution from the vehicles.

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ACTIVISTS URGE EPA TO REQUIRE LOUISIANA WATER PERMIT REVIEW PLAN

Louisiana environmentalists say they will likely sue EPA if the agency does not require the state to create a new environmental permit review body because state administrative law judges can now force the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) to issue permits that violate federal water law.

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ACTIVISTS VOW SUIT OVER NOVEL ON-SITE MIXING ZONE AT WISCONSIN UTILITY

Midwest utility We Energies' proposal to enhance coal-fired electric generation at a Wisconsin facility could draw a lawsuit from environmentalists over novel plans to meet water quality standards through an on-site mixing process that dilutes mercury discharges with water used to cool the generation system.

Environmentalists say the plan violates EPA's ban on so-called mixing zones in the Great Lakes. Mixing zones are generally defined as areas beyond a discharge point where facilities can exceed pollution standards.

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CALIFORNIA LAUNCHES EFFORT TO PROTECT WETLANDS IN LIGHT OF SWANCC

After state legislation on the issue failed, California EPA Secretary Terry Tamminen has directed the state's water board to adopt waste discharge requirements (WDRs) for wetlands left unprotected by the federal government as a result of the Supreme Court's landmark SWANCC decision.

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HOUSE-BACKED BILL FRAMES DEBATE FOR LIMITING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWSUITS

The House has approved legislation that would establish mandatory penalties for lawyers, including a year suspension from practicing law, who file claims that are later found to be "frivolous," which supporters of the bill say should have a chilling effect on the number of environmental lawsuits. While passage by the Senate this year is unlikely, supporters say the House vote, which was largely along party lines, was intended to frame the debate for the next Congress. Supporters say the legislation could be a top priority for Republicans if they win big in the November elections.

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WATER PROJECT APPROVAL PROCESS SLOWS DOWN LANDMARK CAL-FED BILL

Disagreement over House language creating an expedited process for approving future water storage projects appears to be the last remaining obstacle between House and Senate lawmakers approving a $389 million California water management bill, a House source says.

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