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The states can't wait on warming

Only the White House refuses to admit need to cut emissions

The information-sharing agreement between California and Great Britain is one more clue that the White House is the last major public institution in America (and perhaps the world) that doesn't get it about global warming.

The July 31 announcement by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Prime Minister Tony Blair was eye-catching. Some environmentalists said the agreement was more symbolic than substantial. Certainly the event suited the political needs of both the main actors. One of them is running for re-election and needs to distance himself from President Bush, while the other is running for a place in history.

In a nutshell, California and Great Britain want to cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean-burning fuels. California was the 12th largest source of greenhouse gases in the world last year.

Several states, including Oregon and Washington, have issued demands for cleaner vehicles. A coalition of Northeast states has acted in concert regarding greenhouse emissions.

Business groups have noted that the prospective patchwork of regulations is confusing to corporations that operate in all or most of the states. There is validity to that complaint, and it is why federal standards are essential on a host of matters, from clean air and water to emissions standards.

America's stark reality is a president who has offered virtually no vision or leadership on the environment in general and global warming in specific. The response of other nations and the governors of many states is: We can't wait.