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Environmental brief ~ New USDA head to address BSE-related cattle trade concerns

[JURIST] In Tuesday's environmental law news, newly appointed US Department of Agriculture [official website] Secretary Mike Johanns[USDA biography] announced [transcript] at a news conference yesterday that his "top priority" will be working with Japan to resume trade in US beef. Trade was halted in December 2003 after a case of mad-cow disease (BSE) was found in a Washington State cattle. Officials from the US and Japan have been meeting regularly over the past year negotiating a resumption of trade. Last October, an agreement [press release] was reached that would allow the resumption of trade of some cattle and beef products following the completion of regulatory procedures.

In related stories, Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Enzi(R-WY) have introduced a bill (not yet online) that would prohibit the importation of live cattle from Canada until meat is labeled by country of origin, labeling currently required by September 2006. The move was prompted by two cases of BSE in Canadian cattle detected in the last two weeks. AP has more. It is also being reported (no link available) by the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) is currently drafting legislation that would delay the lifting of a ban on the importation of Canadian beef. The ban, in effect since May 2003, is currently scheduled by the USDA to end on March 7.

In other news,

  • The Clear Skies Act of 2005 (S.131 - not yet online) was introduced in the US Senate on Monday. The act would phase in tighter caps on emissions of sulfur dioxide, beginning in 2010, and on nitrogen oxides beginning in 2008. It would also put a cap on mercury emissions beginning in 2010. MarketWatch has more.

  • Hoping to comply with federal air-quality standards, the Tennessee Department of Transportation [official website] will begin lowering the speed limit for heavy-duty trucks in counties that request it. Eighteen counties in the state are currently in violation of federal standards for ozone pollution, and reducing the speed of heavy-duty diesel engines in expected to make a dramatic change in the amount of pollution emitted. AP has more.

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