EPA takes first step toward climate change regs
Environmental Protection Agency concluded Friday that greenhouse
to climate change "endanger public
health and welfare," setting the stage for regulating them
under federal clean air laws.
The EPA action marks the first step toward imposing limits on pollution
linked to climate change, which would mean tighter rules for cars
and power plants. Agency officials cautioned such regulations are
expected to be part of a lengthy process and not issued anytime
Limits on carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse
gases would have widespread economic and social impact, from requiring
better fuel efficiency for automobiles to limiting emissions from
power plants and industrial sources, changing the way the nation
the proposed finding, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said it "confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious
problem now and for future generations." She reiterated that
the Obama administration prefers that climate change be address
by Congress through broad, economy-wide limits on climate-changing
pollution. But the EPA finding of endangerment prepares for possible
regulatory action if Congress fails to act.
Boxer, D-Calif., whose Environment and Public Works Committee
climate legislation, said the EPA finding—stalled
by the Bush administration—is long overdue but that "the
best and most flexible way" to deal with the problem is for
Congress to take action on a broader approach.
Friday's action by the EPA triggered a 60-day comment period before
the agency issues a final endangerment ruling.
said in its finding that "in both magnitude and
probability, climate change is an enormous problem" and that
carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases "that are responsible
for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of
the Clean Air Act."
The EPA concluded
that the science pointing to man-made pollution as a cause of
warming is "compelling and overwhelming." It
also said tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles contribute to
The EPA action was prompted by a Supreme Court ruling two years
ago that said greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Clean Air
Act and must be regulated if found to be a danger to human health
or public welfare.
The Bush administration
strongly opposed using the Clean Air Act to address climate change
and stalled on producing the so-called "endangerment
finding" demanded by the high court in its April 2007 ruling.