Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | April 21, 2009

Kentucky Environmental Attorney Sanders says EPA proposes to regulate six greenhouse gases responsible for global climate change.

Coal fired utility plants are major sources of greenhouse gases.

Coal fired utility plants are major sources of greenhouse gases.

After a thorough scientific review ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. EPA has issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. The proposed finding, which now moves to a public comment period, identified six greenhouse gases that pose a potential threat.

That means EPA will likely regulate the greenhouse gases that are responsible for climate change because scientific evidence shows that the changes in our atmosphere endanger public health and welfare. EPA’s proposed endangerment finding is based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

These same six gases have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. 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. The scientific analysis also confirms that climate change impacts human health in several ways.

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,” for example, suggest that climate change may lead to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant. Additional impacts of climate change include, but are not limited to:

• 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.

In addition to threatening human health, the analysis finds that climate change also has serious national security implications. Consistent with this proposed finding, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a report from the Center for Naval Analyses stating that climate change “presents significant national security challenges for the United States.”

Escalating violence in destabilized regions can be incited and fomented by an increasing scarcity of resources – including water. This lack of resources, driven by climate change patterns, then drives massive migration to more stabilized regions of the world. The proposed endangerment finding now enters the public comment period, which is the next step in the deliberative process EPA must undertake before issuing final findings.

The proposed finding does not include any proposed regulations. Before taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, EPA would conduct an appropriate process and consider stakeholder input. Notwithstanding this required regulatory process, 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. For more information go to: http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html.

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