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US unveils new plan to curb emissions -

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ELEANOR HALL: The US President Barack Obama will go to the climate change summit in Copenhagen
bolstered by new powers to curb greenhouse gas emissions in his country. But this is not in the
form of the cap and trade legislation, which is still stalled in the US Congress.

Instead the Environmental Protection Agency is set to introduce regulations to limit greenhouse gas
emissions, as Washington Correspondent Kim Landers explains.

KIM LANDERS: The Environmental Protection Agency has declared scientific studies show greenhouse
gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people."

That sets the stage for the agency to monitor carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases and to
ultimately regulate these emissions.

The action marks a reversal from the Bush administration, which had refused to issue the finding
before leaving office, even though EPA scientists said it was warranted.

Lisa Jackson is the new director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

LISA JACKSON: In less than 11 months we have done more to promote clean energy and prevent climate
change than happened in the last eight years.

KIM LANDERS: Andrew Light is a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress in Washington.

ANDREW LIGHT: Because of this ruling today, after a period of working through the exact details of
what the regulations are going to look like, then even if Congress does not pass cap and trade
legislation, the President will be able to regulate emissions directly.

KIM LANDERS: The EPA's move could also give the US some negotiating clout at the Copenhagen summit.

It provides President Barack Obama with a solid proposal for when the US is pressing other nations
to make commitments for reducing emissions.

LISA JACKSON: In taking action now and recognising this threat now, we join the hundreds of other
countries, thousands of leading scientists, tens of thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs and
private companies, millions of Americans and billions of global citizens who have seen the
overwhelming evidence and called for action on climate change.

KIM LANDERS: But business is wary. The National Association of Manufacturers says the action won't
do much to combat climate change and "is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy."

Environmentalists have applauded the move, agreeing that the US can go to Copenhagen and negotiate
from a position of strength.

Andrew Light says the EPA plan could also help the Obama administration nudge Congress towards cap
and trade legislation, which has passed the House of Representatives but is stalled in the Senate.

ANDREW LIGHT: I think it will actually increase the likelihood that Congress will act quickly. The
Members of Congress clearly they would like to have more say so in terms of how we start regulating
emissions in this country and the best chance for them to shape that outcome is by passing
legislation of their own.

KIM LANDERS: So perhaps this was designed as a bit of wake up call for the Congress?

ANDREW LIGHT: That's right.

KIM LANDERS: The White House says President Barack Obama still prefers legislation on climate
change and spokesman Robert Gibbs says the timing of the EPA announcement, as the Copenhagen
conference got underway, was coincidental.

President Obama now plans to visit Copenhagen at the close of the talks next week, when other world
leaders will be there, rather than this week as originally planned.

But here in the United States, enthusiasm for tackling climate change appears to be waning.

One recent poll shows just over half of the American public believes that carbon dioxide that's
building up in the atmosphere is warming the planet.

Another survey by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press shows that climate change
comes in last when Americans are asked to rank their top 20 issues.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.