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A federal watchdog says the government is failing to help states and local governments decipher "gaps" in research when it comes to understanding how climate change affects public health, according to the findings of a report requested by Senate Democrats.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, issued the report Tuesday that identifies the hurdles facing federal agencies in helping states understand the public health risks associated with climate change.

The public heath arguments that the Obama administration has used to justify several of its regulations to fight global warming have been challenged by Republicans and business groups in recent months. GOP lawmakers say it is not clear how agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency are calculating the benefits to public health to justify the regulations. The administration's regulations target greenhouse gas emissions that many scientists say are causing the Earth's climate to warm to dangerous levels from the use of fossil fuels.

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