Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

On Climate, States Lead

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

On Climate, States Lead

Article excerpt

California Gov. Gray Davis signed into law this week the nation's first legislation aimed at reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions of cars and trucks. Because California is America's largest car market, the law could eventually reshape automotive fleets nationwide.

California's pioneering policy stands in stark contrast to the continued foot-dragging of the Bush administration, which just this month told Congress that it needs up to five years to decide what to do about global warming.

Though California's new law may be the most important political action ever taken in this nation on behalf of the world's climate, it is only one of a rapidly growing number of reforms that are leaving the US government far outside the global-warming mainstream.

In 1997, Oregon passed the US's first law limiting emissions of carbon dioxide. But today, policymakers around the country are working to cut their states' impact on the global climate. The New England states have adopted a plan to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2010 - a more aggressive approach than the Kyoto climate treaty rejected by President Bush. Even gritty New Jersey has signed agreements with its biggest electric utility and all 56 of its colleges and universities to reduce emissions below 1990 levels.

A half-dozen states, including Illinois, Nevada, and Texas, have enacted laws to require increasing portions of their electricity to come from renewable sources. Texas's renewable energy standard has resulted in the biggest windpower construction boom the nation has ever seen.

To be sure, it's not just the Bush administration, or the Republican Party, that is shirking its responsibility to protect our climate. The Democratic-controlled Senate this spring voted down improved mileage standards (and reduced pollution levels) for motor vehicles, as it has done for years.

Beyond the beltway, however, politicians, and even businesses of all stripes, are taking climate change seriously. …

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