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U.S. to Sign Pact on Chemicals, Seek New Greenhouse Strategy

By Mike Allen
THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

President Bush announced Thursday that the United States will sign a treaty aimed at reducing the release of dangerous chemicals into the environment, while administration officials said separately that the president is exploring new ways of reactivating U.S. participation in international efforts to fight global warming.

Bush sparked angry criticism from U.S. allies when he declared last month that the United States will not be bound by the the 1997 Kyoto agreement on global warming. The treaty committed the world’s industrial nations to meet strict deadlines for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists believe contribute to the warming of the planet.

The administration continues to believe that the treaty would unfairly penalize the United States, but aides said Thursday the White House has stepped up its efforts to come up with alternatives in time for a new round of international climate-change talks in July.

The recommendations, which are being developed in weekly meetings that include seven members of his Cabinet and Vice President Dick Cheney, are likely to include the use of new technologies to promote conservation, aides said. The group is studying what Bush can do by executive order, what Congress must approve and what could be encouraged through international law, the aides said.

Bush announced his decision to sign the decision to sign the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), an international treaty negotiated by more than 120 governments during the Clinton administration, at a Rose Garden ceremony. It was the fourth high-profile Bush initiative on the environment this week.

The treaty is aimed at curtailing the use of a dozen dangerous chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects, incuding several pesticides (aldrin, DDT) and industrial chemicals (PCBs and hexachlorobenzene).