EPA: Greenhouse gases endanger human health

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people’s health and must be regulated, signaling that the Obama administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson scheduled a news conference for later Monday to announce the so-called endangerment finding, officials told The Associated Press, speaking privately because the announcement had not been made.
The finding is timed to boost the administration’s arguments at an international climate conference — opening Monday — that the United States is aggressively taking actions to combat global warming, even though Congress has yet to act on climate legislation.
Without a bill, the U.S. was heading into Copenhagen hard-pressed to explain exactly how it would reach the targets President Barack Obama is set to offer.
Under a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from automobiles, power plants, and factories under the federal Clean Air Act.
The EPA signaled last April that it was inclined to view heat-trapping pollution as a threat to public health and welfare and began to take public comments under a formal rulemaking. The action marked a reversal from the Bush administration, which had refused before leaving office to issue the finding, despite a conclusion by EPA scientists that it was warranted.
Business groups have strongly argued against tackling global warming through the Clean Air Act, saying it is less flexible and more costly than the cap-and-trade bill being considered before Congress. On Monday, some of those groups questioned the timing of the EPA’s announcement, calling it political.
Any regulations are also likely to spawn lawsuits and lengthy legal fights.
–By Dina Cappiello and H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press Writer / December 7, 2009
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