VERMONT A bill introduced in Washington last week could clear the way for tougher vehicle emission rules in Vermont. The bill was brought before the Senate last week and if passed could help curb global warming. The bill was proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, and was cosponsored by Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Steven Johnson was summoned by a Senate panel last week so he could explain his reasoning for blocking California and Vermont as well as a handful of other states from enforcing their own emission standards. If you cant do the right thing, at least get out of the way of California, Vermont and other states, said Sanders, referring to Administrator Stevens. If we do not move aggressively, this planet is in danger. Sanders is an active member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Leahy was also critical of the federal government's handling of emission standards legislation. Last week, he called upon President Bush to pick up the pace, or get out of the way. The Bush Administration has been AWOL or worse on air quality issues, said Leahy. And now they even want to undermine states like California and Vermont that are trying to pick up the slack. They wont lead and they wont follow, so this bill would force them at least to get out of the way and stop obstructing states like ours that are trying to lead on clean air policy. In response to remarks made by both Leahy and Sanders, Johnson reportedly claimed that he did not understand what was meant by major crisis, in regards to global warming. Rather, the EPA administrator would only concede that it was a serious problem. Your responses tell us why the entire world wonders what is happening in the United States on this issue, said Sanders. Gov. James Douglas was present at a hearing for Stevens, and he testified that global warming could negatively affect both Vermont's ski industry and its maple production. Global warming could threaten our way of life, he said. And we have an obligation to do all we can to protect our environment for future generations. Vermont hopes to adopt emissions standards that would require automakers to increase the average miles-per-gallon for passenger cars and small SUVs to 43.7, and 26.6 for larger light trucks.