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Environmental legislation may be left at gate

Given the Republicans' legislative priorities, it is unlikely that Congress will pass any major environmental legislation this year. Senator John Chafee (R-RI), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said overhauls of Superfund, the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act are unlikely.

His first priority, he said, was reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Meanwhile, some of the nation's largest companies, including IBM, Occidental Petroleum, Sun Co., and Air Products and Chemicals, have formed a coalition to press for narrow changes in the Clean Air Act. Of particular interest are permit provisions, which, the companies complain, make it difficult to quickly change industrial processes, thereby hurting competitiveness. There also has been some discussion on Capitol Hill about revisiting the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, but only with regard to hazardous waste. When RCRA was last considered three years ago, flexible packaging was exempt from municipal waste provisions in the House bill, and FPA would rather let sleeping dogs lie.

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