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Bush's 'caution' on CO2 seen as 'foot-dragging' by critics

Supreme Court has ruled that EPA can regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, but administration says deliberation needed.

Stacks emit smoke at Cinergy Corp.'s Gibson Station coal-burning power plant, near Princeton, Ind.

AP Photo/Chicago Tribune, Chuck Berman

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With the U.S. Supreme Court peering over its shoulder and Congress turning up the political heat, the Bush administration is moving toward some sort of action on the climate-changing greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).

But what administration officials see as responsible deliberation – seeking public comment later this spring before acting under the federal Clean Air Act – critics charge is foot-dragging. Rep. Ed Markey (D) of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, calls it "running out the clock" before the next president takes over in 10 months.

Not so, says Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Ste­phen Johnson. Mr. Johnson's reason for going more slowly is that dealing with CO2 needs to be seen in a broader context: not just motor vehicles (which account for about 30 percent of the US total), but also such stationary sources as power plants, oil refineries, and cement and other manufacturers. In a letter to lawmakers quoted by the Associated Press he wrote:

"Rather than rushing to judgment on a single issue this approach allows us to examine all the potential effects of a decision with the benefit of the public's insight."

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