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Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

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Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

NAFTA PROBE OF MERCURY RULE MAY HELP POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTALIST SUIT

A request by environmentalists for a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel to investigate whether EPA's plan to regulate power plants air emissions fails to adequately enforce the Clean Water Act could provide the activists with information for future litigation against the agency's controversial mercury proposal, an environmentalist attorney tracking the issue says. The request also suggests first-time arguments that environmentalists could use in any potential lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's mercury plan on water law grounds, although the...

APPELLATE RULING MAY LIMIT GROUPS' COURT ACCESS, LEGAL 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 environmental and industry 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 -- used to determine when parties in litigation share similar interests...

EPA LIKELY TO SEEK FULL APPELLATE REVIEW OF RARE AIR RULE 'VACATUR'

EPA is planning to appeal a precedent-setting federal appellate decision vacating a clean air rule because agency officials fear it could set a dangerous precedent for immediately vacating defective air quality standards rather than remanding them to the agency for reconsideration, sources tracking the issue say. EPA is particularly worried that if the ruling is allowed to stand, future courts can rely on the precedent to vacate rules that could be easily remedied, leaving the agency without any standard and...

COLORADO AGREES TO STUDY IMPACT OF AIR RULES ON ROCKY MOUNTAIN PARK

Colorado officials are undertaking an unusual effort to examine the impacts of pending federal pollution standards on air quality in Rocky Mountain National Park, acknowledging that they have not determined how a host of major initiatives would impact one of the most polluted parks in the West. If the state finds that future air standards will fail to protect the park, it could recommend additional controls on pollution sources in the state if officials show the controls would improve air...

PRO-ETHANOL GROUPS CITE LOW SMOG WHILE CARB SHOWS HIGH EMISSIONS

The battle over whether ethanol helps or hurts air quality is intensifying in California as a pro-ethanol group is pointing to the lowest smog levels in a decade during the first year that the state's ethanol use grew dramatically, while the state's air resources board released a report that "confirms" the corn-based additive increases vehicle emissions. The California Air Resources Board's (CARB) September report, Fuel Permeation from Automotive Systems, found, "Emissions increased on all 10 vehicle fuels systems studied when...

LEADING HOUSE REPUBLICAN DRAFTS BILL TO CURB REGIONAL CLEAN FUELS

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) has revised earlier legislation limiting the number of regional clean fuels with new provisions that could prompt EPA to reduce the number of fuels nationally and expand the previous bill's emergency waiver provision, according to draft legislation obtaine by Inside Washington Publishers . Some sources tracking the issue say the legislation could be introduced this week, but it is unclear whether he will seek a vote on the measure, try to attach it to...

NEW YORK, ENVIRONMENTALISTS PRESS INSURERS TO TARGET CLIMATE RISKS

Environmentalists and some New York state officials are pressuring major insurance companies to develop policies to reduce financial risks posed by climate change. Following three major hurricanes that hit Florida and the Gulf Coast, environmentalists are urging states to insist that insurers develop adequate reserves that deal with natural disasters that may stem from climate change. But conservatives are emphasizing statements from some state climatologists disputing claims that the hurricanes are linked to global warming. Meanwhile, two New York state...

EPA SEEKS TO RESTORE REDUCTIONS IN PM RESEARCH FUNDING FOR FY2005

EPA officials are working with Senate lawmakers to restore funding cuts to its particulate matter (PM) research program after the House cut $4.7 million from the Bush administration's roughly $59 million fiscal year 2005 budget request for the research. The move comes as the Senate Appropriations Committee Sept. 21 approved a bill that boosts EPA's science and technology account by $69 million above the administration's requested level, but it was not clear whether any of that increase could be applied...

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES CONTROVERSIAL GREENHOUSE GAS PLAN

Outgoing New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) announced a Sept. 16 proposal to redefine carbon dioxide (CO2) as an air contaminant, taking a dig at EPA, which last year concluded just the opposite. "While the Bush administration refuses to confront the serious consequences of rising greenhouse gas levels, New Jersey is taking the first steps toward real, regional initiatives that will reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions," McGreevey said in a statement. Under the proposal, the state's Department of Environmental Protection...

USDA FINALIZES RULE TO EXPAND METHYL BROMIDE 'QUARANTINE EXEMPTION'

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sept. 16 finalized its proposal to expand the use of methyl bromide's so-called quarantine exemption, calling for all imported wood packaging material to be either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide, which is otherwise banned. "This change will affect all persons using wood packaging material in connection with importing goods into the Untied States," the final rule says. Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com. The plan prompted concerns from senior government officials and...

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