- - Thursday, July 7, 2011


Agency clamps down on power-plant pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency is clamping down on power-plant pollution in 27 states that contributes to unhealthy air downwind.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced on Thursday a plan to reduce smokestack pollution causing smog and soot in downwind states, where it combines with local air contaminants, making it impossible for those states to meet air quality standards on their own.

The rule differs from one proposed by the Obama administration in July. Power plants in the District of Columbia and five states - Delaware, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana and Massachusetts - will no longer have to control year-round emissions of two pollutants - sulfur dioxide, responsible for acid rain and soot, and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to both smog and soot.

Texas, by contrast, will have to reduce more pollution than in the initial proposal, which required the state’s power plants only to address summertime smog-forming pollution.


Probe of donors to nonprofits dropped

The Internal Revenue Service is dropping its investigation of five donors for making contributions to the kind of nonprofit groups that have become popular for spending millions of dollars on political ads in the past few years.

The IRS was trying to determine whether the donors owed federal gift taxes for the donations. However, IRS spokesman Frank Keith said Thursday the law on gift taxes is unclear, so the agency is closing the cases and won’t open any new ones until it reviews whether additional guidance or legislation is necessary.

The IRS did not name the donors or the nonprofit groups to which they contributed. But the agency’s confirmation of an investigation in May could have had a chilling effect on politically active groups that have become integral to campaigns.


Immediate end to ethanol credit proposed

Two senators from ethanol-producing states proposed Thursday to immediately end a tax credit for the corn-based fuel and agreeing to support shifting some of that money to debt reduction.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, and John Thune, South Dakota Republican, along with ethanol opponent Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, have proposed diverting $1.3 billion of the money remaining for the tax break this year to pay for debt reduction. And $668 million will be used for incentives for the ethanol and biofuels industries.

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