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EPA: Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment

Posted on December 8, 2009

A final decision released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that greenhouse gases (GHG) present a threat to public health and environmental quality. The decision, which resulted from a 2007 Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants, does not impose specific emissions reduction regulations, according to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

EPA said that its endangerment finding “covers emissions of six key greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of scrutiny and intense analysis for decades by scientists in the United States and around the world.”

"Scientific consensus shows that as a result of human activities, GHG concentrations in the atmosphere are at record high levels and data shows that the Earth has been warming over the past 100 years, with the steepest increase in warming in recent decades,” according to the EPA’s announcement. “The evidence of human-induced climate change goes beyond observed increases in average surface temperatures; it includes melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans due to excess carbon dioxide, changing precipitation patterns, and changing patterns of ecosystems and wildlife.”

EPA issued the proposed findings in April 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received more than 380 000 comments, which it said were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings.

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