EPA Calls Greenhouse Gases a Public Threat
The Environmental Protection Agency said greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare in a decision that could eventually lead to new emissions regulations.
The so-called "endangerment finding" announced Monday by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is necessary to move ahead on new emission standards for cars, while potentially opening up large emitters such as power plants, crude-oil refineries and chemical plants to limits on their output of carbon dioxide and other gases.
"These long overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the U.S. government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform," Ms. Jackson said in a statement.
The controversial decision, which the Obama administration indicated it would make earlier this year, comes as a global climate summit opens in Copenhagen, Denmark.
From the EPA
The move has been opposed by many business groups and lawmakers who fear it will place a burden on the economy.
The endangerment finding sets up regulation of greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act, which some experts warn would be much more blunt than climate-change legislation crafted by Congress.
The EPA's finding "could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said earlier in a statement. "The devil will be in the details, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure we don't stifle our economic recovery," he said, noting that the group supports federal legislation.
EPA action won't do much to combat climate change, and "is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy," said the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that stands as a proxy for U.S. industry.