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Water

ENVIRONMENTALISTS URGE GOVERNOR TO SIGN OCEAN PROTECTION ACT

Environmentalists are urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill to establish an ocean protection council to coordinate the state's ocean stewardship programs, saying the bill will make the state a model in terms of responding to recommendations contained in two recent national reports on ocean protection. Backers of the bill are "guardedly optimistic" the governor will sign the measure, though the Department of Finance opposes the bill because it creates a new government organization as the administration is working to consolidate state agencies and departments.

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WRCB HEARS STAY REQUEST FOR DISPUTED L.A. BOARD BOEING PERMIT

Marking an early step in a closely watched process, an environmental group last week tried to convince the water board that provisions in a permit issued for a former rocket testing facility in southern California are too loose and should be suspended in favor of more stringent conditions contained in a previous permit. The odds are against this "stay request" being granted, but the case has attracted attention from stakeholders who say it could go a long way toward defining how regional boards use "best professional judgment" to set effluent limits in discharge permits.

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Senate Budget Plan Could Restore $500 Million Clean Water Cut

Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), chairman of the VA-HUD appropriations subcommittee, is working on a proposal to increase funding for veterans groups that the senator and other observers say could allow the panel to restore at least some of the $500 million a House committee slashed from EPA's spending bill.

Bond's efforts come after intense lobbying by a bipartisan group of senators and a broad coalition of environmentalists, states and water utility officials reiterated the importance of restoring the funds.

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Internal EPA Counterterror Strategy Seeks To Fill Funding Gap

EPA is looking to prevent possible homeland security funding shortfalls in its fiscal year 2006 budget by asking the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for spending levels that represent a 25 percent increase over earlier agency proposals, according to internal budget documents obtained by Inside EPA. In a budget request that was slated for submission to OMB on Sept.

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Increase In Fish Advisories Unlikely To Result In New State Water Controls

Despite increases last year in state fish consumption advisories for mercury and other toxins, states are unlikely to add the majority of these waterbodies to their Clean Water Act (CWA) list of impaired waters that require new discharge limits, state and EPA sources say.

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RULING COULD FORCE CORPS TO EXPAND WATER ACT SCOPE IN PERMIT DECISIONS

A recent appellate ruling blocking construction at a Phoenix development could expand Clean Water Act (CWA) and other environmental protections by forcing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider environmental impacts to all waterbodies on a construction site, not just those directly affected by development.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Aug. 26 upheld an injunction issued by a lower court that suspended development at the site during pending litigation over the legality of a CWA section 404 permit the Corps issued to the developers.

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EPA DEFENDS GULF NITROGEN REDUCTION PLANS DESPITE FARMERS' CRITIQUES

Acting EPA water chief Ben Grumbles is defending the agency's focus on nitrogen runoff from farms as part of its multi-year effort to shrink the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, despite agriculture industry calls that cite a recent EPA study to shift pollution-control efforts to industrial discharges of phosphorus.

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DOJ APPEAL APPEARS TO CHANGE TACK IN FIGHT OVER COAL MINING PERMITS

The Justice Department (DOJ) appears to be contradicting its earlier legal position in a new appeal challenging a successful environmentalist lawsuit that froze clean water permitting for coal mining operations in a key part of West Virginia, environmentalists say.

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STAKEHOLDERS CHALLENGE EPA INACTION ON CONSTRUCTION EFFLUENT GUIDE

States and environmentalists filed separate petitions in federal appellate courts in recent weeks asking the courts to review EPA's decision not to finalize proposed clean water effluent regulations governing stormwater runoff from the construction and development industry. The suits are the latest chapter in a long-running debate over how best to address construction site runoff.

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JEFFORDS SEES DIM OUTLOOK FOR RESTORING WATER FUNDING CUTS

Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT) is doubtful the Senate can restore a House panel's proposed cut to clean water infrastructure funding included in EPA's budget, as Senate appropriators begin discussions on the agency's fiscal year 2005 spending levels. "Well, we're going to try, but I would say [the prospects for restoring the funds are] not very good," Jeffords said Sept. 8. "I think there are so many other demands for money," he added.

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