With Washington apparently uninterested in acting on issues from good-paying jobs to environmental protection, the burden is increasingly falling to the states. What's interesting is how leaders even in "red" states are embracing progressive positions in response to public sentiment (and organized pressure).

Over at Huffington Post, Sierra Club director Carl Pope shares this example about Georgia is challenging the pollution lobby and pushing for stronger health standards:

When the Bush administration successfully undid President Clinton's mercury-control regulations, and put their own "delay, dilute, and pollute" plan in place, Georgia looked like one of the last places where we would see cleanup. After all, [local power company] Southern had spent a fortune and ten years trying to protect itself from having to clean up its huge coal-fired turbines.

But this year, as the public in Georgia began to wake up the threat of mercury, something surprising happened. Governor Perdue announced that he was considering overriding the weak Bush plan and putting his own in place. Then, this week, something amazing happened. Georgia announced that, yes, it was going to stand up to both Bush and Southern and require a very ambitious cleanup plan:

"Eighty (percent) to 90 percent of the time we go with the federal rule," said Ron Methier, the air branch chief of the state Environmental Protection Division. "But where we see an environmental need to go further ... we do. Georgia is fairly unique in that we have a lot more mercury problems than most states."

The Atlanta Journal Constitution weighed in with strong support, anticipating, I suspect, that Southern will not go gently in that clean night:

"Georgia doesn't always get high marks for protecting the environment and human health. But state officials can make top grades on this issue by adopting tougher mercury rules that will help safeguard some of our most vulnerable residents."