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Dust-up over EPA proposal
...the federal Environmental Protection Agency wants to end air-quality rules for such coarse-particle dust in rural areas - exempting small towns, farms and mines...
The EPA's own scientific advisory panel...opposes the move.
The proposed standard would undo programs that have reduced high levels of dust and soot...
The EPA proposal slated to be adopted this fall would regulate "big dust" - inhalable particles one-quarter the size of a grain of salt - only in urban areas.
EPA quietly attempts to radically change pollution rules
During the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, local officials and the Environmental Protection Agency depended on one source to find hotspots of toxic chemicals: a database known as the Toxic Release Inventory.
"This was the only information they had to identify toxic chemicals of any kind in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," says Clayton Northouse, an information policy analyst at OMB Watch, a nonprofit government accountability group.
Until a few weeks ago, the inventory was to be slashed to comply with the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act. The EPA said they were gutting the 20-year-old database to save paper. What they didn't say was that the decision would dramatically reduce pressure on polluters.
Under the plan, companies would report biannually instead of annually and would only have to report toxic releases of more than 5,000 pounds. Currently, the EPA requires reporting of any releases greater than 500 pounds.
EPA Rule Loosened After Oil Chief's Letter to Rove
A rule designed by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones was loosened after White House officials rejected it amid complaints by energy companies that it was too restrictive and after a well-connected Texas oil executive appealed to White House senior advisor Karl Rove.
The new rule, which took effect Monday, came after years of intense industry pressure, including court battles and behind-the-scenes agency lobbying. But environmentalists vowed Monday that the fight was not over, distributing internal White House documents that they said portrayed the new rule as a political payoff to an industry long aligned with the Republican Party and President Bush.
In 2002, a Texas oilman and longtime Republican activist, Ernest Angelo, wrote a letter to Rove complaining that an early version of the rule was causing many in the oil industry to "openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity."
Rove responded by forwarding the letter to top White House environmental advisors and scrawling a handwritten note directing an aide to talk to those advisors and "get a response ASAP."