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U.S. to unveil plan to cut emissions, Gore announces

Risking the wrath of U.S. industry, the Clinton administration will unveil a program this summer to further cut emissions of "greenhouse gases" in the 21st century, Vice President Al Gore said Monday.

Gore's pledge was the latest word on administration plans for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases produced by the United States beyond the year 2000.

By then, President Clinton hopes to reduce emissions to 1990 levels _ a reversal of Bush administration policy _ a daunting task that he set as a goal in an Earth Day speech on April 21.

Under current growth forecasts, the United States would be emitting 1.7-billion metric tons of carbon equivalent _ carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and other so-called greenhouse gases _ by the year 2000.

Cutting back to the 1990 level of 1.5-billion metric tons would thus necessitate a 13 percent reduction.

The leader of a coalition of energy companies and businesses was cautious in responding to Gore's proposal.

"If it is to build new technology and partnerships between the United States and business and to help the developing countries" reduce their gas emissions, the plan could find favor with U.S. business, said John Shlaes, executive director of the Global Climate Coalition.

"If we're talking about caps (on emissions), that would be very difficult for U.S. industry and counterproductive," Shlaes said.

Addressing the opening session of a U.N. conference on the world's environment, held one year after the U.N.'s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Gore did not disclose specifics of the U.S. plan to cut gas emissions.

Administration officials said a task force of officials from the Transportation Department and other agencies is preparing the plan.