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See also: "Regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, "Energy policy of the United States, and "Environmental policy of the United States

International law[edit]

The United States, although a "signatory to the "Kyoto Protocol, has neither "ratified nor withdrawn from the protocol. In 1997, the US Senate voted unanimously under the "Byrd–Hagel Resolution that it was not the sense of the Senate that the United States should be a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. In 2001, former National Security Adviser "Condoleezza Rice, stated that the Protocol "is not acceptable to the Administration or Congress".[1]

The United States, along with "Kazakhstan, have not ratified the "Kyoto Protocol.["citation needed] The protocol is non-binding over the United States unless ratified. "Presidents "Bill Clinton, "George W. Bush, and (as of January 2015) "Barack Obama did not submit the treaty for ratification.["citation needed]

In October 2003, "the Pentagon published a report titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security by "Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall. The authors conclude by stating, "this report suggests that, because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change, although uncertain and quite possibly small, should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. "national security concern."[2]


In October 2003 and again in June 2005, the "McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act failed a vote in the US Senate.[3] In the 2005 vote, Republicans opposed the Bill 49-6, while Democrats supported it 37–10.[4]

In January 2007, Democratic "House Speaker "Nancy Pelosi announced she would form a "United States Congress subcommittee to examine global warming.[5] The US government announced that it was withdrawing funding from the lobby groups it had been supporting that aimed to discount the evidence for global warming.["citation needed] Sen. "Joe Lieberman said, "I'm hot to get something done. It's hard not to conclude that the politics of global warming has changed and a new consensus for action is emerging and it is a bipartisan consensus."[6] The "Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 was introduced by "Senators "Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and "Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on January 15, 2007. The measure would provide funding for R&D on geologic "sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2), set emissions standards for new vehicles and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, establish energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards beginning in 2008 and low-carbon electric generation standards beginning in 2016 for electric utilities, and require periodic evaluations by the "National Academy of Sciences to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.[7] However, the bill died in committee. Two more bills, the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act, proposed February 14, 2013, also failed to pass committee.[8]

The "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) was approved by the "House of Representatives on June 26, 2009, by a vote of 219–212, but died in the "Senate.[9][10]

In March 2011, the "Republicans submitted a "bill to the "U.S. congress that would prohibit the "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gasses as pollutants.[11] As of July 2012, the EPA continues to oversee regulation under the Clean Air Act.[12][13]

Bush administration[edit]

Climate change policy of the George W. Bush administration

In March 2001, the "Bush Administration announced that it would not implement the "Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1997 in "Kyoto, Japan that would require nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that ratifying the treaty would create economic setbacks in the U.S. and does not put enough pressure to limit emissions from developing nations.[14] In February 2002, Bush announced his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, by bringing forth a plan to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gasses by 18 percent over 10 years. The intensity of greenhouse gasses specifically is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions and economic output, meaning that under this plan, emissions would still continue to grow, but at a slower pace. Bush stated that this plan would prevent the release of 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is about the equivalent of 70 million cars from the road. This target would achieve this goal by providing "tax credits to businesses that use renewable energy sources.[15]

The Bush administration has been accused of implementing an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on "climate polluters", according to a report in "Rolling Stone magazine that reviews hundreds of internal government documents and former government officials.[16] The book "Hell and High Water asserts that there has been a disingenuous, concerted and effective campaign to convince Americans that the science is not proven, or that global warming is the result of natural cycles, and that there needs to be more research. The book claims that, to delay action, industry and government spokesmen suggest falsely that "technology breakthroughs" will eventually save us with "hydrogen cars and other fixes. It calls on voters to demand immediate government action to curb emissions.[17] Papers presented at an International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, held in 2009 under the sponsorship of the "University of Copenhagen in cooperation with nine other universities in the "International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), maintained that the climate change skepticism that is so prevalent in the USA[18] "was largely generated and kept alive by a small number of conservative think tanks, often with direct funding from industries having special interests in delaying or avoiding the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions".[19]

According to testimony taken by the "U.S. House of Representatives, the Bush White House pressured American scientists to suppress discussion of global warming[20][21] "High-quality science" was "struggling to get out", as the Bush administration pressured scientists to tailor their writings on global warming to fit the Bush administration's skepticism, in some cases at the behest of an ex-oil industry lobbyist. "Nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words 'climate change,' 'global warming' or other similar terms from a variety of communications." Similarly, according to the testimony of senior officers of the "Government Accountability Project, the White House attempted to bury the report "National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change", produced by U.S. scientists pursuant to U.S. law,[22] Some U.S. scientists resigned their jobs rather than give in to White House pressure to underreport global warming.[20] and removed key portions of a "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report given to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the dangers to human health of global warming.[23]

The Bush Administration worked to undermine state efforts to mitigate global warming. "Mary Peters, the Transportation Secretary at that time, personally directed US efforts to urge governors and dozens of members of the House of Representatives to block California's first-in-the-nation limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks, according to e-mails obtained by Congress.[24]

Obama administration[edit]

"New Energy for America is a plan to invest in renewable energy, reduce reliance on foreign oil, address the global climate crisis, and make coal a less competitive energy source. It was announced during "Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

On November 17, 2008 President-elect "Barack Obama clarified, in a talk recorded for YouTube, that the US will enter a cap and trade system to limit "global warming.[25]

The president has established a new office in the White House, the "White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, and selected "Carol Browner as Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Browner is a former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is currently a principal of The "Albright Group LLC, a firm that provides strategic advice to companies .[26]

"American Clean Energy and Security Act, a cap and trade bill was passed on June 26, 2009 in the House of Representatives, but was not passed by the Senate.

On January 27, 2009, Secretary of State Clinton appointed "Todd Stern as the department's Special Envoy for Climate Change.[27] Clinton said, "With the appointment today of a special envoy we are sending an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy."[28] Stern, who had coordinated "global warming policy in the late 1990s under the "Bill Clinton administration, said that "The time for denial, delay and dispute is over.... We can only meet the climate challenge with a response that is genuinely global. We will need to engage in vigorous, dramatic diplomacy."[28]

In February 2009, Stern said that the U.S. would take a lead role in the formulation of a new climate change treaty in "Copenhagen in December 2009. He made no indication that the U.S. would ratify the "Kyoto Protocol in the meantime.[29] US Embassy dispatches subsequently released by "whistleblowing site "WikiLeaks showed how the US 'used spying, threats and promises of aid' to gain support for the "Copenhagen Accord, under which its emissions pledge is the lowest by any leading nation.[30][31]

"President Barack Obama said in September 2009 that if the international community would not act swiftly to deal with climate change that "we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe...The security and stability of each nation and all peoples—our prosperity, our health, and our safety—are in jeopardy, and the time we have to reverse this tide is running out." [32]

President Obama said in 2010 that it was time for the United States "to aggressively accelerate" its transition from oil to alternative sources of energy and vowed to push for quick action on climate change legislation, seeking to harness the deepening anger over "the oil spill in the "Gulf of Mexico.[33]

The "2010 United States federal budget proposed to support clean energy development with a 10-year investment of US $15 billion per year, generated from the sale of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions credits. Under the proposed cap-and-trade program, all GHG emissions credits would be auctioned off, generating an estimated $78.7 billion in additional revenue in FY 2012, steadily increasing to $83 billion by FY 2019.[34]

New rules for power plants were proposed March 2012.[35][36]

In 2015, Obama announced the "Clean Power Plan, which is the final version of regulations originally proposed by the EPA the previous year, and which pertains to carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.[37]

A September 2016 study from "Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyses a set of definite and proposed climate change policies for the United States and finds that these are just insufficient to meet the US "intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) under the 2015/2016 "Paris Agreement. Additional "greenhouse gas reduction measures will probably be required to meet this international commitment.[38] These additional reduction measures will soon have to be decided on in order to start complying with the agreement's "below 2 degrees" goal, and countries may have to be more proactive than previously thought [39]

An October 2016 report compares US government spending on climate security and military security and finds the latter to be 28 × greater. The report estimates that public sector spending of $55 billion is needed to tackle climate change. The 2017 national budget contains $21 billion for such expenditures, leaving a shortfall of $34 billion that could be recouped by scrapping underperforming weapons programs. The report nominates the "F-35 fighter and "close-to-shore combat ship projects as possible targets.[40][41][42]

Trump Administration[edit]

Further information: "Environmental Policy Under the Trump Administration

During his campaign, "Donald Trump made promises to roll back some of the Obama-era regulations made with the purpose of combating "climate change. He believes that efforts to curb our fossil fuel industries hurt our global competitiveness.[43] Trump also pledged to roll back regulations placed on the oil and gas industry by the EPA under the "Obama administration in order to boost the productivity of both industries.[44]

As President-elect, Trump appointed the Attorney General of Oklahoma, "Scott Pruitt, for the role of Head of the "Environmental Protection Agency. As Attorney General, Pruitt removed Oklahoma’s environmental protection unit and sued the EPA fourteen times for various reasons, thirteen of those fourteen times involving “industry players” as co-parties.[45] His nomination was confirmed on February 17, 2017 with a 52-46 vote.[46] Pruitt’s confirmation almost definitely signals a different direction for climate change policy, and one that the Trump administration is looking to utilize.

Currently, since he was inaugurated as president, President Donald Trump has begun to move forward with some of his campaign promises in regards to climate change. In alignment with his thoughts on climate change, President Trump has had the “climate change” page on the White House website created by former President Obama removed. It is now only viewable by searching for the archived page.[47] He also issued an executive order on January 24, 2017 that removed more barriers from the "Keystone XL and "Dakota Access Pipelines, making it easier for the companies sponsoring them to continue with production.[48]

State and local policy[edit]

States that have declared GHG mitigation strategies or hold action plans["when?]

Across the country, regional organizations, states, and cities are achieving real emissions reductions and gaining valuable policy experience as they take action on climate change. These actions include increasing "renewable energy generation, selling agricultural "carbon sequestration credits, and encouraging "efficient energy use.[49] The "U.S. Climate Change Science Program is a joint program of over twenty U.S. cabinet departments and federal agencies, all working together to investigate climate change. In June 2008, a report issued by the program stated that weather would become more extreme, due to climate change.[50][51]

States and municipalities often function as "policy laboratories", developing initiatives that serve as models for federal action. This has been especially true with environmental regulation—most federal environmental laws have been based on state models. In addition, state actions can have a significant impact on emissions, because many individual states emit high levels of greenhouse gases. Texas, for example, emits more than France, while California's emissions exceed those of Brazil.[52] State actions are also important because states have primary jurisdiction over many areas—such as electric generation, agriculture, and "land use—that are critical to addressing climate change.

It is important to understand that states have limited resources to devote to the climate issue, and their strict budget requirements can put long-term climate policies in jeopardy. States also lack certain powers that would be crucial to a comprehensive climate change policy, such as the authority to enter into international agreements. Finally, when states take individual approaches on the issue, a "patchwork quilt" of policies can result across the nation. This patchwork of policies may be inefficient for complying business and may result in some states duplicating the work done in other states. While some states are delivering real reductions of GHG emissions only in a few cases do the reduction targets commensurate with what will be needed on a global scale.

Comprehensive climate plans combined with enforecable GHG emissions targets provide the highest certainty of significant emission reductions. Twenty-eight states have climate action plans and nine have statewide emission targets. The states of California and New Mexico have committed most recently to emission reductions targets, joining New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Washington and Oregon.

Regional initiatives can be more efficient than programs at the state level, as they encompass a broader geographical area, eliminate duplication of work, and create more uniform regulatory environments. Over the past few years, a number of regional initiatives have begun developing systems to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, increase renewable energy generation, track renewable energy credits, and research and establish baselines for carbon sequestration.


On September 8, 2006, "Arizona Governor "Janet Napolitano signed an executive order calling on the state to create initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the 2000 level by the year 2020 and to 50 percent below the 2000 level by 2040.[53]


Maryland began a partnership with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) in 2015 to research impacts and solutions to climate change called the Maryland Climate Change Commission.[54]


Climate change in California

California (the world's sixth largest economy) has long been seen as the state-level pioneer in environmental issues related to global warming and has shown some leadership in the last four years["when?]. On July 22, 2002, Governor "Gray Davis approved AB 1493, a bill directing the "California Air Resources Board to develop standards to achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. Now the California Vehicle Global Warming law, it requires automakers to reduce emissions by 30% by 2016. Although it has been challenged in the courts by the automakers, support for the law is growing as other states have adopted similar legislation. On September 7, 2002 Governor Davis approved a bill requiring the "California Climate Action Registry to adopt procedures and protocols for project reporting and carbon sequestration in forests. (SB 812. Approved by Governor Davis on September 7, 2002) California has convened an interagency task force, housed at the California Energy Commission, to develop these procedures and protocols. Staff are currently seeking input on a host of technical questions.

On June 2005, Governor "Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order[55] calling for the following reductions in state greenhouse gas emissions: 11 percent by 2010, 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Measures to meet these targets include tighter automotive emissions standards, and requirements for renewable energy as a proportion of electricity production. The "Union of Concerned Scientists has calculated that by 2020, drivers would save $26 billion per year if California's automotive standards were implemented nationally.[56]

On August 30, 2006, Schwarzenegger and the "California Legislature reached an agreement on AB32, the "Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill was signed into law on September 27, 2006, by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared, "We simply must do everything we can in our power to slow down global warming before it is too late... The science is clear. The global warming debate is over." The Act caps California's greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2020, and institutes a mandatory emissions reporting system to monitor compliance. This agreement represents the first enforceable statewide program in the U.S. to cap all GHG emissions from major industries that includes penalties for non-compliance. This requires the State Air Resources Board to establish a program for statewide greenhouse gas emissions reporting and to monitor and enforce compliance with this program. The legislation will also allow for market mechanisms to provide incentives to businesses to reduce emissions while safeguarding local communities,[57] and authorizes the state board to adopt market-based compliance mechanisms including cap-and-trade, and allows a one-year extension of the targets under extraordinary circumstances.[58] Thus far, flexible mechanisms in the form of project based offsets have been suggested for five main project types. A "carbon project would create offsets by showing that it has reduced carbon dioxide and equivalent gases. The project types include: manure management, forestry, building energy, SF6, and "landfill gas capture.

Additionally, on September 26 Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 107, which requires California's three major biggest utilities – "Pacific Gas & Electric, "Southern California Edison, and "San Diego Gas & Electric – to produce at least 20% of their electricity using renewable sources by 2010. This shortens the time span originally enacted by Gov. Davis in September 2002 to increase utility renewable energy sales 1% annually to 20% by 2017.

Gov. Schwarzenegger also announced he would seek to work with Prime Minister "Tony Blair of Great Britain, and various other international efforts to address global warming, independently of the federal government.[59]


The state of Connecticut passed a number of bills on global warming in the early to mid 1990s, including—in 1990—the first state global warming law to require specific actions for reducing CO2. Connecticut is one of the states that agreed, under the auspices of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP), to a voluntary short-term goal of reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and by 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The NEG/ECP long-term goal is to reduce emissions to a level that "eliminates any dangerous threats to the climate—a goal scientists suggest will require reductions 75 to 85 percent below current levels.[60] These goals were announced in August 2001. The state has aRegional lso acted to require incrdditions in renewable electric generation by 2009.[61]

Regional initiatives[edit]

Regional climate change initiatives in the United States

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

In 2003, "New York State proposed and attained commitments from nine "Northeast states to form a cap and trade "carbon dioxide emissions program for power generators, called the "Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This program launched on January 1, 2009 with the aim to reduce the carbon "budget" of each state's electricity generation sector to 10 percent below their 2009 allowances by 2018.[62] Ten Northeastern US states are involved in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,[63] It is believed that the state-level program will apply pressure on the federal government to support Kyoto Protocol.["citation needed] The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a "cap and trade system for CO2 emissions from power plants in the member states. Emission permit auctioning began in September 2008, and the first three-year compliance period began on January 1, 2009.[64] Proceeds will be used to promote energy conservation and renewable energy.[65] The system affects fossil fuel power plants with 25 MW or greater generating capacity ("compliance entities").[64]

Western Climate Initiative

Since February 2007, seven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces have joined together to create the "Western Climate Initiative, a regional greenhouse gas emissions trading system.[67] The Initiative was created when the West Coast Global Warming Initiative (California, Oregon, and Washington) and the Southwest Climate Change Initiative (Arizona and New Mexico) joined efforts with Utah and Montana, along with British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.[68]

The nonprofit organization WCI, Inc., was established in 2011 and supports implementation of state and regional greenhouse gas trading programs.[69]

Powering the Plains

 Powering the Plains began in 2002 and aims to expand alternative energy technologies and improve climate-friendly agricultural practices.[70]

  • Participating states: Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Canadian Province of Manitoba

Litigation by states[edit]

Several lawsuits have been filed over global warming. In 2007 the "Supreme Court of the United States ruled in "Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency that the "Clean Air Act gives the "United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, such as "tailpipe emissions. A similar approach was taken by California Attorney General "Bill Lockyer who filed a lawsuit California v. General Motors Corp. to force car manufacturers to reduce vehicles' emissions of carbon dioxide. A third case, Comer v. Murphy Oil, was filed by Gerald Maples, a trial attorney in Mississippi, in an effort to force fossil fuel and chemical companies to pay for damages caused by global warming.[71]

In June 2011, the "United States Supreme Court overturned 8-0 a "U.S. appeals court ruling against five big power utility companies, brought by U.S. states, New York City, and "Land trusts, attempting to force cuts in "United States greenhouse gas emissions regarding "global warming. The decision gives deference to reasonable interpretations of the "United States Clean Air Act by the "Environmental Protection Agency. [72][73] [74][75][76][77]

Position of political parties and other political organizations[edit]

In the "2012 Presidential campaigns the two major Parties made little to no reference to climate change mitigation or global warming.[78]

The Democratic Party[edit]

The "Democratic Party plays an active and positive role of climate change. Its large platform views climate change as “an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.” Democrats are also dedicated to “curbing the effects of climate change, protecting America’s natural resources, and ensuring the quality of our air, water, and land for current and future generations.”[79]

Most Democrats stand united on climate change and view urgent to decrease the consumption of fossil fuel and establish initiatives for clean energy. The Party believes the United States, as one of the great global leaders fighting against climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent by the mid of the century. It also encourages the federal government to support the "Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature increases “well below” two degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

Further, Democrats want to address the negative externalities of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane by regulating coal-fired power plants and taxing them to help pay for a transition to a clean energy economy. Democrats also advocate the use of solar energy like wind power.[80]

The Republican Party[edit]

The "Republican Party has varied views on climate change unlike the Democratic Party and the "Green Party which stand united with the serious concerns of the environmental problems. Many Republicans are less likely to express concern about climate change or state that the issue is urgent to be solved.

In 2014, President Barack Obama proposed a series of "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, known as the "Clean Power Plan that would reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Republican Party has viewed these efforts as a “war on coal” and has significantly opposed them.

The GOP does champion some energy initiatives following: opening up public lands and the ocean for further oil exploration; fast tracking permits for oil and gas wells; Hydraulic fracturing. It also supports dropping “restrictions to allow responsible development of nuclear energy.”[79]

Petroleum industry[edit]

From 1989 to 2005, "oil and "gas "industries gave $179.5 million to U.S. federal candidates and parties.

The corporations producing fossil fuels have for years engaged in aggressive lobbying "promoting their products and attempting to raise doubts about the need or sensibility of alternatives, despite the "scientific consensus on global warming being a man-made phenomenon. They have funded institutions and websites producing reports supporting their viewpoint. According to the "Center for American Progress Action Fund, since 2009 they have spent $500 million lobbying against climate-change legislation and opposing or supporting candidates with respect to their financial interests.[81]

Climate and Environmental Justice[edit]

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Environmental Justice as: “The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” [82]

Many studies have shown that those people who are least responsible for causing the problem of climate change are also the most likely to suffer from its impacts. Poor and disempowered groups often do not have the resources to prepare for, cope with or recover from early climate disasters such as droughts, floods, heat waves, hurricanes, etc.[83] This occurs not only within the United States but also between rich nations, who predominantly create the problem of climate change by dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and poor nations who have to deal more heavily with the consequences. Thus climate environmental injustices occur at both the domestic and international level.

With the rapid acceleration of climate change in recent years, many grassroots movements have emerged to combat its impact. Spokespeople within these groups argue that universal access to a clean and healthy environment and access to critical natural resources are basic human rights.[84] These grassroots groups are part of an emerging global movement that call for attention to the inherent inequities in climate change. These groups, both domestic and international, tend to be self-funded and are geared towards action rather than specific climate research. The livelihoods of many members typically rely on climate-sensitive sectors that they argue are being eroded as a result of climate change, such as, farming, forestry, and fishery.

Assessing the impact of climate justice movements on domestic and international government policies can be difficult as these movements tend to operate and participate outside the political arena. Global policy-making has not yet recognized the overarching principles (climate equity, inclusive participation, and human rights) of the movement.[84] Instead, most of those key principles are beginning to emerge in the activity on non-governmental organizations. A few examples of US-based organizations working for climate justice include: the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), Rising Tide, 350.ORG, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), Indigenous Environmental Network, and Movement Generation.[85]

The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (commonly known as AB 32) is a primary example of climate justice policy in the United States. This legislation is significant as it was the first major climate change policy passed in the US.[86]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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