US EPA announced today that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. 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.
EPA’s 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.
EPA also finds that GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat. On-road vehicles contribute more than 23 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions.
EPA’s proposed GHG standards for light-duty vehicles, a subset of on-road vehicles, would reduce GHG emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012-2016 vehicles.
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 were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings. For more information on EPA’s findings go to: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html