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States take clean-air measures into their own hands

Although the Bush administration has backed off carbon dioxide regulations, others are pushing the issue.

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Officially, and in contrast to many other countries, the United States remains unconvinced about global warming, reluctant to force steps that would reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse cases suspected of impacting Earth's climate.

Despite Bush administration skepticism, however, climate change is emerging as a major political issue.

Prominent Republicans are among those lawmakers pushing legislation that would start US reduction of greenhouse gases in line with the international Kyoto treaty. In federal court, a dozen states seek to force the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Shareholder groups are pressuring corporations to consider the implications of climate change. And from coast to coast, states and communities - on their own and in groups - are implementing plans to "think globally, act locally" on climate change by regulating transportation, power generation, and energy use.

As a presidential candidate in 2000, George W. Bush promised that he would deal with carbon dioxide as a pollutant related to climate change. Once elected, and after hearing complaints from industry sources involved with crafting the administration's energy policy, he reversed that position and ordered the EPA to interpret the Clean Air Act as if it didn't apply to carbon dioxide.

Mr. Bush's "Clear Skies" proposal, designed to reduce the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury emitted by coal-burning power plants and other industries, does not include carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas (GHG).

In the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week, 12 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington), along with the cities of Baltimore, New York, and Washington, argued for reducing GHGs under current law.

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