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EPA Weighs in on Greenhouse Gases

Posted on April 17, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. The proposed finding, the result of a Supreme Court-mandated scientific review ordered in 2007, identified six greenhouse gases that pose a potential threat.

The proposed finding, which does not include any proposed regulations, identified six greenhouse gases that it has determined pose a potential threat. The six include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. EPA said that its proposed endangerment finding is “based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis. The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate.”

In addition, the announcement said that scientific analysis has confirmed that “Climate change impacts human health in several ways.” It pointed to findings from a recent EPA study titled “Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone” suggesting that climate change may lead to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone; increased drought; more heavy downpours and flooding; more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires; greater sea level rise; more intense storms and harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to seek and consider input from affected interests before proposing any specific regulatory measures. The announcement pointed out that both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue and create the framework for a clean energy economy.

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