Tuesday, December 08, 2009

epa says greenhouse gases imperil health

NYTimes | The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued a final ruling that greenhouse gases posed a danger to human health and the environment, paving the way for regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, factories, refineries and other major sources.

The announcement was timed to coincide with the opening of the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen, strengthening President Obama’s hand as more than 190 nations struggle to reach a global accord.

The E.P.A.’s administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said that a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court required the agency to weigh whether carbon dioxide and five other climate-altering gases threatened human health and welfare and, if so, to take steps to regulate them.

She said Monday that the finding was driven by the weight of scientific evidence that the planet was warming and that human activity was largely responsible.

“There have and continue to be debates about how and how quickly climate change will happen if we fail to act,” Ms. Jackson said at a news conference at the E.P.A.’s headquarters. “But the overwhelming amounts of scientific study show that the threat is real.”

Industry groups quickly criticized the decision, saying that the regulation of carbon dioxide, a near-ubiquitous substance, would be legally and technically complex and would impose huge costs across the economy.