EPA final rule: Greenhouse gases are dangerous

Following a 60-day comment period, the U.S. EPA's final rule states that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.


On Dec. 7, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that "After a thorough examination of the scientific evidence and careful consideration of public comments" that "greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. "

EPA said that GHGs are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly; increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses; as well as other threats to the health and welfare of Americans.

EPA's final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The findings do not in and of themselves impose any emission reduction requirements but rather allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation. Beyond on-road transportation, the rulemaking will enable the EPA to issue new regulations to reduce GHGs that could ultimately impact the buildings industry.

EPA's endangerment finding covers emissions of six key greenhouse gases:carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

According to the EPA, the Agency received more than 380,000 comments to its proposed findings during a were published in April, 2009 . In advance of the final rule released today, EPA said that the comments were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings.

According to a Reuters report , the final rulemaking was welcomed on the opening day of the United Nations climate treaty negotiations taking place in Copenhagen, Dec. 7-18, where 15,000 participants are negotiating the first new U.N. climate agreement in 12 years.

"This is very significant in the sense that if...the Senate fails to adopt legislation (on emissions), then the administration will have the authority to regulate," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters in Copenhagen.


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