Cannon to the Left of Him, Cannon to the Right of Him

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WASHINGTON: President Clinton prepared to do battle on two fronts Wednesday, announcing greenhouse gas proposals that fall short of European targets, but go substantially beyond the wishes of U.S. heavy industry. Clinton proposed that emissions be stabilized at 1990 levels by the year 2012. Europe hopes for a 15 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2010.

Meanwhile, big industry in the U.S. plans to fight hard against any binding targets, citing economic cost of implementing such cuts and complaining that developing countries are not signing on to the treaty. Seeking to head off such arguments, the President stressed that while the U.S. houses only 5 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for more than 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions -- and its emission levels are on the increase. Even though the implications of global warming had not yet hit home for many Americans, urgent action was required, he said.

Even then, global warming will likely provoke a fight for Capitol Hill as ferocious as the health care reform conflagration of Clinton's first term.