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A big chill in global-warming bill

Threats against imports from countries that don't fight climate change will backfire on the US.

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A red flag should go up over one effort in Congress to make America go green.

The main global-warming bill on Capitol Hill calls for the president to slap stiff barriers on imports from other countries that don't reduce their carbon emissions in comparable ways.

Such a trade restriction is aimed at helping US industries stay competitive once they are forced to pay higher energy costs under a climate-change law. The US could see many of its industries move to other countries with lesser or no curbs on greenhouse gases, a possibility called "carbon leakage."

Or, less-expensive goods from those countries could flood the American market.

The provision in the House measure on climate change is why President Obama pitches this legislation as a "jobs bill."

But it isn't one, really.

This restriction could trigger a wave of global trade protectionism that would ultimately hurt the US economy – the largest exporter in the world, and one in which 40 percent of jobs are dependent on trade.

And it would put a big kibosh on reaching an agreement for a new global-warming treaty at a summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December.

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