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California to Pass Tough New Clean-Air Laws

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California to Pass Tough New Clean-Air Laws

Environment

California to Pass Tough New Clean-Air Laws

California to Pass Tough New Clean-Air Laws

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California is poised to become the first state in the nation to require industries and residents to cut global warming pollution. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined with Democrats who control the state legislature to announce the deal.

When California, with the nation's biggest economy, has adopted tough environmental standards in the past, the rest of the country has often followed.

In this case, President Bush and Congress have rejected mandatory measures to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. They say it would be too costly for the nation's economy.

Gov. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, says it makes economic sense to reduce global-warming pollution, because it will stimulate clean-energy businesses. And California lawmakers say they hope their initiative will push Washington, D.C., into stronger action on climate change.

Under the plan, California will have to lower its global-warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That means cars, power plants and other polluters will have to emit 25 percent less 15 years from now than they might have without this deal.

The plan will use what's called a cap-and-trade system. The state will set pollution caps for various industries, and over time, those caps will become more restricted. The plan allows businesses to buy and sell the right to pollute.

Supporters of the arrangement, which follows the outline of recommendations California adopted along with Great Britain, say that it would allow market forces to control pollution.

Both the California Assembly and Senate are expected to pass the measure by midnight Thursday. And then the governor has to sign it. But after that, there will still be details to hammer out. For instance, some industries probably will have to make bigger cuts than others.

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