Sweating Away

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Anxious to keep its image as the regulation-slashing champion of American business intact, the Senate said today it will reject an international treaty on global warming unless the developing world signs on as well. Appeals by a data-spouting Undersecretary of State Timothy Wirth for industrialized countries to lead the way in combatting the planet's "most important environmental challenge" fell on deaf ears as senators wondered aloud what was the point of a treaty that lets sizeable carbon dioxide-guzzlers such as China continue to pollute at will. The Administration plans to present its strategy at an international climate conference in Japan next year, but by that time, its agenda for climactic change could undergo some changes itself. One test case to watch -- new clean air regulations on smog and soot. TIME's Dick Thompson reports that while the Republican-dominated Congress, fresh from its recent disaster relief snafu, is in no mood to cast itself as environmental enemy no. 1, the White House does not want to tarnish its new image as the long-lost, Democratic friend of businesses with dogmatic support for a bill that could suck up to $29 billion annually out of the economy. Expect roll-backs on the clean air front, Thompson says. If so, the globe may just have to get a little warmer.