E.P.A. to Clear the Way for Regulation of Warming Gases

EPA

EPA

By John M. Broder 

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that threaten public health and welfare, setting in motion a process that for the first time in the United States will regulate the gases blamed for global warming.

The E.P.A. said the science supporting its so-called endangerment finding was “compelling and overwhelming.” The ruling triggers a 60-day comment period before any proposed regulations governing emissions of greenhouse gases are published.

Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, said: “This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations. Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low-carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation.”

She said that combatting the emissions that create greenhouse gases would help create millions of new jobs and lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by fostering a more fuel-efficient transportation industry.

As the E.P.A. begins the process of regulating these climate-altering substances under the Clean Air Act, Congress is engaged in writing wide-ranging energy and climate change legislation that could pre-empt any action taken by the agency. President Obama and Ms. Jackson have repeatedly said that they much prefer that Congress address global warming rather than have the E.P.A tackle it through administrative action.

The United States has come under fierce international criticism for trailing other industrialized nations in moving to regulate carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants. With this move, and the parallel action by Congress toward a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, the American government can now point to concrete progress as nations begin to write a new international climate change treaty.

However, the E.P.A.’s announcement on Friday did not include any specific targets for reducing greenhouse gases or new requirements for energy efficiency in vehicles, power plants or industry. Those would emerge after a period of comment and rule-making or in any legislation approved by Congress.

Two years ago this month, the Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. E.P.A., ordered the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases harm the environment and public health and, if not, to explain why. Agency scientists were virtually unanimous in determining that they do, but top officials of the George W. Bush administration suppressed the finding and took no action.

In his first days in office, Mr. Obama promised to review the case and act quickly if the finding were justified. Friday’s announcement is the fruit of that review. The E.P.A. action was approved after two weeks of scrutiny by the White House Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory affairs arm.

Read the rest of this story at New York Times

  • Neil F.

    My first reaction is one of anger, and incredulity. I can’t believe this is really happening. But it is.
    After thinking about it for a while however, it has occured to me that eventually they are going to look like complete idiots. Think about it. As we know, the Sun rules the climate. If they are successful at curbing so called “greenhouse” gases, what are they going to say when the Sun moves back into an active cycle, and the temperatures begin to rise again? Woops?
    I am still incredulous that they competely ignore the facts. And by facts I mean the fact that the global mean temperatures are in a downward trend now for the last decade. And the fact that the volume of Arctic sea ice is, right now, on track to be higher than the 1979-2001 average.
    Now those are facts. Not computer modeled predictions. Not guesses. Facts, as in actual temperature records, and satelite imagery.
    I predict that they will eventually be proven wrong, and this will go down in history as one of the biggest blunders the U.S. government has ever made.
    In the meantime we will all have to stop breathing, well exhaling anyway. Soon we will all have to be fitted with a bag over our heads to catch our exhalations and bring them to a carbon sequestration center. Don’t laugh, that may happen.
    These people are LOONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jeff

    “…However, the E.P.A.’s announcement on Friday did not include any specific targets for reducing greenhouse gases or new requirements for energy efficiency in vehicles, power plants or industry…”

    This is problemmatic. Our government is poised to enact sweeping regulatory changes that will artificially raise the cost of energy for everyone. Expect the “Law of Unintended Consequences” to bite many of us. It seems irrational to do this in the absence of any comprehensive national energy policy. Given that the “debate is over”, “the science is settled”, (two phrases coined by Al Gore and repeated by President O’Bama), and that “Those would emerge after a period of comment and rule-making or in any legislation approved by Congress”, why can’t the EPA set GHG emissions targets? The answer most likely is because the entities who stand to make money from all of this need help the politicians set national policy, and thus help our elected officials reduce GHG emissions. In other words, American lobbyists and politicians are going to save the planet from catestrophic climate change. Thank you’s go to the scientific community for their magnificent public service.

    Dwight Eisenhower’s warning that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite has become prophetic.

    God, help us all.

  • Ray Gaudette

    It’s a shame when money becomes the driving factor for any cause. The idea that as humans exhale they are polluting the atmosphere is absolutely preposterous and implies that the good Lord was mistaken in his design of animals that breathe oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. As for a “consensus”; There is none. More reputable scientists are convinced that humans are not, and most likely cannot, be the cause of climate change either warmer or colder, than those scientists that believe this dribble. This issue is MONEY driven and will cost us all an enormous amount of our money and will result in NO change in the climate. Stupidity is, unfortunately, contagious.

  • Neil F.

    I read this from the most recent articles page at the freinds of science website. http://www.fcpp.org/main/publication_detail_print.php?PubID=2707
    I wrote the author Dr. Tim Ball, and asked him why they are moving ahead with this despite what he was writing about. This is what his reply was:

    Neil:
    The EPA document is just a proposal and although many in the media and in the environmental movement are presenting it as a fait accompli it has a many processes to go through before it is enacted. There are several legal challenges already presented and more to come. I was part of one of these along with some other qualified scientists. The EPA has to respond to these by showing their science is correct and ours is wrong. There is a judicial process in the US that is somewhat outside the general legal area. The case is heard before a panel of three judges knowledgeable about science. The EPA has also scheduled hearings across the US at which experts will be making presentations. I already know of one very qualified group who are scheduled.

    More important the Obama administration has made several broad policy statements with no reference to climate change or global warming.

    Even the NY Times is reporting the changing position.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/us/politics/19lobby.html?_r=3&th&emc=th

    Add to this that polls such as the recent one by the Pew Center show that environment, let alone climate, are 18th on the list of concerns for the public and whether they acknowledge it or not politicians listen to polls. It is also clear that the Congress will not vote in favor of anything that affects the economy or jobs. Remember the Senate with Gore as VP voted 95-0 against Kyoto. There are also the statements by the environmentalists who are clearly worried that they are losing ground.

    I, like you, despair at times about the truth winning out, but the process is slow to build then almost overnight it will change. When the mainstream media realize the bigger story is how the world has been misled they will stampede to that story.

    Tim Ball

    He also sent me this story:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/18/only-34-of-usa-voters-now-blame-humans-for-global-warming/

    Which is already posted on this site.

    Dr. Ball is a real nice guy, not a kook or a whacko in any way. He is a scintist with a PHD in climatology. Yet, down to earth enough to send you a reply when you email him.

  • Rob N. Hood

    The EPA’s endangerment finding said high atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases ‘are the unambiguous result of human emissions (the use of petroleum powered devices), and are very likely the cause of the observed increase in average temperatures and other climatic changes.

    “EPA scientists last year offered evidence of the health hazards of greenhouse emissions, but the Bush administration took no action. It opposed across-the-board mandatory regulation of climate-warming pollution, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy.”

    People- your rich rulers already artificially inflate prices. They don’t need a “climate scam” to do that. Sheeesh.

  • Neil F.
  • Heather

    Well, this is our government too… I know it seems impossible, but I know for me this is an important issue and I would like to get off my duff and actually get active here in a positive and constructive way. How can I help? What can I do? Anybody got a form letter that I can send to my representatives and post in that EPA comments section. That is what the other side would do. They would motivate and pull together and take action. That’s what they’ve been doing and look how far they’ve gotten. I want a piece of this. We want this debate, there has been little thus far.

  • If you live in Minnesota, subscribe to Minnesota Majority’s action alerts. We use the kind of tools Heather mentions – in a very technologically advanced, sophisticated way, and we will be tackling this issue with an action alert soon. Meanwhile, take some initiative, follow the link in the post and compose your own comments for the EPA.

  • Rob N. Hood

    So all you non-scientists are going to tell the EPA where you think they went wrong? Interesting. Then tell that to you’re dentist the next time s/he says you have a cavity that needs to be fixed…

    My god,what could have been if they had not stole the election of 2000,the corrupt supreme court,the members placed by republicans,owned by the oil companies…An illegal “preemptive” war for oil,resulting in a million innocent dead,just so we can dig the hole deeper.

    The election theft of 2000 was the turning point,we could have by now built thousands of wind and solar plants,created millions of new jobs and avoided the Bush depression. What could have been with Mr Gore.

  • Rob N. Hood

    MORE conspiricy. Damn those mad scientists!

    BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Climate change is turning the oceans more acid in a trend that could endanger everything from clams to coral and be irreversible for thousands of years, national science academies said on Monday.

    Seventy academies from around the world urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks from June 1-12 to take more account of risks to the oceans in a new U.N. treaty for fighting global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

    “To avoid substantial damage to ocean ecosystems, deep and rapid reductions of carbon dioxide emissions of at least 50 percent (below 1990 levels) by 2050, and much more thereafter, are needed,” the academies said in a joint statement.

    The academies said rising amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted mainly by human use of fossil fuels, were being absorbed by the oceans and making it harder for creatures to build protective body parts.

    The shift disrupts ocean chemistry and attacks the “building blocks needed by many marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures,” it said.

    On some projections, levels of acidification in 80 percent of Arctic seas would be corrosive to clams that are vital to the food web by 2060, it said.

    And “coral reefs may be dissolving globally,” it said, if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were to rise to 550 parts per million (ppm) from a current 387 ppm. Corals are home to many species of fish.

    “These changes in ocean chemistry are irreversible for many thousands of years, and the biological consequences could last much longer,” it said.

    The warning was issued by the Inter-Academy Panel, representing science academies of countries from Albania to Zimbabwe and including those of Australia, Britain, France, Japan and the United States.

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