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Environmental brief ~ Louisville mayor launches air pollution program review

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's environmental law news, Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Jerry Abramson directed [press release] an advisory group to review and recommend changes to the area's air pollution program. The Strategic Toxic Air Reduction [official website] program was enacted in 2005 after a US Environmental Protection Agency study concluded that local residents face the highest risks from toxic air pollution in the Southeast. Critics of the program claim it is too vague and burdensome, as it requires some 220 industrial sites to determine whether their air emissions are posing health risks beyond their properties. The Courier-Journal has more.

In other environmental law news...

  • Rockland County, New York [government website] became one of the first communities in the state to regulate wood furnaces Wednesday. The regulation bans wood furnaces that have a firebox volume of 5 cubic feet or more, which applies to almost all commercially available furnaces. The Board of Health [official website] approved the measure, citing air pollution concerns. Proponents of the furnaces argue that with the rising cost of heating oil, wood furnaces are more economical. The Journal News has more.

  • The Houston Texas City Council [official website] voted Wednesday to reject a request from Houston mayor Bill White to sue Valero Energy [corporate website] for air pollution. Valero operates an oil refinery which allegedly violated its emissions permits at least six times last year. The City Council said that it is working toward an agreement with the company that would cover both the violations and its continuing operations, and that the state Commission on Environmental Quality [official website] was conducting its own investigation into the violations which could lead to charges by the state attorney general. The Houston Chronicle has more.

  • The state of Victoria, Australia [government website] will begin to fine people that waste water under a plan announced Thursday by acting Premier John Thwaites. The plan will establish stricter water regulations and calls for voluntary reductions in water use by individuals of 15 percent by 2010, and by 30 percent by 2020. There is concern that Melbourne could run out of water by 2020 if no action is taken. The government has already placed a number of programs [official] into effect. AAP has more.

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