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Enviro-Newsbrief February 24, 1999


Enviro-Newsbrief
February 24, 1999

The following is a daily update summarizing news of interest to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources: newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For more information, contact the EPA Headquarters Information Resources Center at (202) 260-5922, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ.

**Viewpoints expressed in the following summaries do not necessarily reflect EPA policy**

A searchable archive of past Enviro-Newsbriefs can be found on the EPA web site at the following URL: http://www.epa.gov/natlibra/hqirc/enb.htm

** CLIMATE CHANGE **

Vice President Gore Calls Natural Gas 'Vital' To Tempering Climate Change and Promoting Economic Growth. Lycos Environment News Service, February 23, 1999. Full text of story available at: http://ens.lycos.com/e-wire/february/feb239902.html

In an interview with the American Gas Association, Vice President Albert Gore said "...that the use of natural gas is vital to meet America's increasing energy needs and environmental goals." The interview is to appear in the March issue of American Gas magazine.

Gore believes that the use of natural gas is important to the international reduction of carbon emissions. He said "As we enter the 21st century, both the world's energy needs and our recognition of the need to address climate change will continue to grow. Natural gas will play an increasingly vital role in addressing both of these needs. We can expect to see growing use of natural gas in electricity-generating plants, heating and cooling units, and eventually for distributed power, such as fuel cells, micro-turbines and the like."

The vice president covered a variety of topics during his interview, including ways of providing consumers with accurate information about environmental issues, and used terms like "vital," "efficient" and "clean-burning" to describe natural gas.

In another column that will appear in the same issue, EPA Administrator Carol Browner writes an article titled "Clearing the Air." She said EPA has "removed obstacles that stymie the competitiveness of natural gas...and other cleaner fuels...to promote energy efficiency in everything from our appliances to our office buildings."

**For a complete copy of the interviews in American Gas magazine, contact the A.G.A. Public Relations office at (703) 841-8660. More information is available at: http://www.aga.org

New Report to Analyze Impacts on U.S.; Draft Version Expected in Late Summer. Daily Environment Report, February 24, 1999, pA-2.

Peter Backlund of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said the administration has held a series of workshops over the past year on potential impacts of climate change on different parts of the country. The reports on these meetings will be part of a White House draft report analyzing the impacts of climate change. Included in the report will be assessments on "how climate change could affect forests, agriculture, human health, water resources, and coastal ones of the United States," Backlund said. He said the completion of the report is expected in early 2000 when it will be sent to Congress.

** WATER POLLUTION **

Impaired Waters Definition to Be Expanded Beyond Just Pollutants, EPA Official Says. Daily Environment Report, February 24, 1999, ppA9-10.

An upcoming proposal would be expanded to add impairments other than pollutants in developing a listing of water bodies that do not meet water quality standards, according to a top EPA official speaking at the mid-winter meeting of the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA).

Geoffrey Grubbs, a director in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds, informed state water regulators about the proposed shift in emphasis from "pollutant" to the term "pollution."

This new emphasis under the Clean Water Act could affect the total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and "include impairment to habitat, barriers to fish passage, and atmospheric deposition," said Grubbs.

According to Grubbs, TMDLs will be required only for water bodies that are impaired by pollutants.

Under the Clean Water Act, states make a determination of how their water bodies will be used and set water quality standards based upon those uses. States must also submit to EPA a Section 303(d) list of waters in their state that do not meet the standards.

The complexity of the entire process and inconsistent way it is applied is troublesome to state water regulators. Grubbs said the program has sparked dozens of lawsuits in 32 states.

In some states, members of the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA), are pushing legislators to clamp down more on non-point sources. The non-point sources are believed to be primarily responsible for many water impairment problems, and the AMSA is encouraging its members to sue the states if they fail to adequately address non-point sources.

** EPA **

EPA's Wasteful Grants [Commentary]. The Washington Times, February 24, 1999, pA-15.

Deroy Murdock, MSNBC columnist and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, writes that the EPA gets a lot of help from non-profit organizations and that they get a lot of money from the EPA in the form of grants.

He makes a reference to a report recently released by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) titled "Phony Philanthropy" by David E. Williams and Elizabeth L. Wright. The report cites $236 million in EPA grants that were handed out to 839 non-profits in 1995 and 1996.

Murdock's article goes on to cite numerous examples of what he considers "EPA's ballistic budget trajectory" pointing to grants of up to a $14,436,634 grant that was received by the National Rural Water Association.

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