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Progress in California on curbing emissions

Its landmark plan to battle global warming, approved with fanfare a year ago, is moving forward.

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One year after California vowed to cut industrial and auto greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 to combat global warming, the state is groping its way toward answers about how exactly it will attain that goal – and who will bear the costs.

Along the way, resistant officials have resigned or been fired, businesses and manufacturers have griped, and consumer groups have complained that oil companies aren't doing enough to pony up. But as other states and other nations watch, California is clearing major hurdles – including passage last month of a bill allocating $125 million a year to develop alternative transportation fuels and vehicles and another $80 million a year to improve air quality.

Environmental activists, in particular, are satisfied with the state's efforts thus far.

"California is off to a great start," says Roland Hwang, vehicle policy director of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in California. The recent funding to begin implementing the greenhouse-gas cuts takes the emissions-cutting plan from drawing board to reality, he says, and "shows that several big pieces are being put into place."

Even business groups, which a year ago were warning that companies would flee if California pushed ahead with global-warming rules, are engaged in the implementation. Many still worry about what their liabilities and costs will turn out to be, but say they no longer feel as if they are simply dissenting voices on the outside looking in.

"We are in the driver's seat, participating in workshops and influencing how this plays out," says Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of government relations for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. "Happy is not the word, but we are ... constructively involved in all the rulemaking developments … and that's good."

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