Monday, December 7, 2009

EPA: Greenhouse gases a public health threat

Washington (CNN) -- Greenhouse gas emissions pose a threat to public health and welfare, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Monday.

"The overwhelming amount of scientific studies show that the threat is real," she said.

The announcement stems from a Supreme Court ruling which ordered the agency to determine the impact of carbon emissions not only on the environment, but on public health.

"These long-overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean energy reform," Jackson said.

Immediately after the announcement, Jackson will head to Copenhagen, Denmark, to participate in the Copenhagen Climate Conference ahead of President Obama's appearance on Friday.

Her statement could provide proof to the conference that the agency and the Obama administration are taking global warming seriously. However, White House aides caution the finding does not mean the EPA will immediately begin regulating industries that pollute the air.

The Obama administration is pushing for comprehensive energy legislation from Congress that puts a price on carbon emissions, a so-called "cap and trade" policy that uses market forces as an incentive for businesses to reduce carbon emissions.

The agency is making this announcement because it is required to issue an "endangerment finding" -- evidence that carbon emissions are dangerous to the public health -- before it can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases under the federal Clean Air Act.

The EPA said in April 2009 that it would likely make such a ruling regarding carbon emissions and public health. The agency completed a public-comment process before making the announcement.

(Article courtesy of

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