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Environmental brief ~ Washington state close to settling fish-farm fight

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's environmental law news, the Washington State Senate [official website] has approved a measure [PDF text] that would allow the state to provide more water from the Columbia River basin for agriculture while protecting fish by ensuring water levels during spawning runs. For years, farmers in eastern Washington have battled conservationists in western Washington over the amount of water that could be withdrawn from the rivers for irrigation purposes. The measure sets aside money to create new water supplies for farmers and to increase the water flow in the rivers. The measure had previously passed the House, and it is expected to be signed by the governor. The Seattle Times has more.

In other environmental law news

  • Dow Chemical [corporate website] and the former Rockwell International company, now Rockwell Automation [corporate website], have been found guilty of trespass and nuisance in their operation of the Rocky Flats [EPA backgrounder, DOE website] nuclear weapons plant in Colorado, resulting in the largest environmental class action lawsuit in the state's history. The jury, sitting in the US District Court for Colorado [official website], returned a verdict [not yet online] of $553 million for the 12,000 class action plaintiffs for property value loss and contamination of their lands from plutonium released and mishandled at the plant. The facility operated from 1953 to 1989. Dow Chemical plans to appeal the verdict [press release]. The Denver Post has more.

  • The US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) [official website] issued a notice [PDF text] of a proposed bulletin [PDF text] that would establish the way federal regulatory agencies should conduct risk assessments before issuing rules, policies, or recommendations. Applying to all agencies, this would encompass in environmental matters EPA risk assessments for air and water emissions, hazardous waste controls and pesticide tolerances, Food and Drug Administration food contamination tolerance levels, and USDA food handling and safety regulations, amongst others. Public comments on the proposal will be accepted until June 15, 2006. Environmental Science and Technology has more.

  • The South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy [official website] and corporate officials from SK Corp. [corporate website], LG Chem Ltd. [corporate website] and the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association [organization website], signed an agreement Tuesday to set targets for reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions, and to create an air pollution tracking system. The Korea Herald has more.

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