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Can states cut carbon? EPA says no.

California's bid to set tougher auto-emissions standards has been stymied by the Bush administration. Now the courts will decide.

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The political tussle over whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant subject to government regulation has gone on for years.

Early in his first term as vice president, Al Gore pushed a tax on CO2. Democrats and Republicans in Congress were both skeptical. The idea went nowhere.

As a presidential candidate, George Bush seemed to think regulating CO2 was a good idea. At least he said so.

After his election, then-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Christie Whitman marched forth in support of what she thought was White House policy. She quickly got reeled back. Two years later she resigned, complaining that Vice President Dick Cheney kept pushing for weaker air pollution controls.

Fast forward to the present, and the fight continues – this time pitting the Bush administration against a group of 19 governors led by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California. California had passed a law forcing automakers to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016.

But the EPA failed to go along.

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