The US environmental protection agency (EPA) announced today that no action will be taken to regulate carbon emissions while George Bush remains president.

The EPA's decision to sit on its hands comes after months of wrangling between government scientists, who pressed for action in the wake of a landmark US supreme court ruling, and White House officials dead set against regulating pollution. The supreme court ordered the EPA in April 2007 to officially rule on whether climate change endangers public health, a finding that would give the agency authority to regulate carbon under the US Clean Air Act.

State governments and green groups have slammed the agency with lawsuits protesting its 15-month silence on the issue. But the EPA forestalled environmental action today with a unique response.

Rather than weighing in on how to regulate emissions, agency administrator Stephen Johnson extended the period for public comment on climate change until after Bush leaves office, effectively depositing the problem in the lap of the next president.

"In almost every instance, [the EPA's climate change] work has raised further questions of such importance that the scope of the task has continued to expand," Johnson told reporters. "If our nation is truly serious about regulating greenhouse gases, the Clean Air Act is the wrong tool for the job ... It's really at the feet of Congress to come up with good legislation that will cut through what is likely to be decades of regulation and litigation," he added.


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