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Environmental brief ~ Senate could overturn EPA mercury rules

[JURIST] In Monday's environmental law news, the US Senate could vote tonight on a proposal that would set aside the Environmental Protection Agency [official website] cap on mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. The agency's rule [official website], which was finalized in March, sets a nationwide cap on mercury emissions and puts a ceiling on allowable pollution for each state beginning in 2010. Individual plants can buy pollution credits from plants that are under allowable levels through a cap-and-trade system, similar to those used with other air pollutants. The Senate proposal would call for a floor vote on the agency rules, allowed by a 1996 law that has been successfully used only once to repeal Clinton administration workplace ergonomics regulations in 2001. A majority of the Senate must to agree to hold a vote on the proposal, before a separate vote on the proposal can occur. Should it pass the Senate, it would go the House and onto the White House where the Administration has already threatened a veto. Marketwatch has more.

In other environmental law news...

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) [official website] has designated counties [press release] in California, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Virginia as primary agricultural disaster areas. The designation allows certain farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers in the counties to be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) [official website]. The disaster is generally due to flooding in the west and north, and drought in the south. USDA has more on federal agriculture disaster assistance here.

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