Greenhouse Gases a Public Threat

In a decision that could eventually lead to new emissions regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now states that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health and welfare. To see the press conference, click here.

The “endangerment finding” announced Monday by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson may be the first step in moving ahead on new emission standards for cars. Down the road, this could also potentially set the stage for the government to control the emissions of large emitters such as power plants, crude-oil refineries and chemical plants by setting limits on their output of carbon dioxide and other gases.

According to the statement issued by Ms. Jackson on Monday, “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. The controversial decision comes as a global climate summit opens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Many business groups have opposed such a move and some lawmakers believe it may hamper the economy. The endangerment finding will trigger regulation of greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act (CAA), which some experts feel would be much more comprehensive than climate-change legislation crafted by Congress.

According to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, ”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,” he 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 stated, noting that the Chamber of Commerce supports federal legislation.

On the other hand, the National Association of Manufacturers, a major trade group that many feel represents U.S. industry, feels that the EPA action won’t do much to combat climate change, and “is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy.” Read more here.