Monday, December 07, 2009

EPA says greenhouse gases threaten health but does not declare carbon dioxide dangerous

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said today that heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere are a threat to huiman health, but she did not do what some expected: declare carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, a dangerous pollutant. An endangerment finding "could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions -- even if Congress doesn't pass pending climate-change legislation," Jeffrey Ball and Charles Forelle of The Wall Street Journal reported this morning.

Jackson's 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," CNN reports.

"An endangerment finding would allow the EPA to use the federal Clean Air Act to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, which are produced whenever fossil fuel is burned," the Journal explains. "Under that law, the EPA could require emitters of as little as 250 tons of carbon dioxide per year to install new technology to curb their emissions starting as soon as 2012." EPA has said it will only require permits from facilities that put out 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, but the reporters say that effort to avoid slamming small businesses with new costs is expected to be challenged in court. (Read more) (WSJ graphic)

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