EPA finds greenhouse gases harmful

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a finding today concluding that greenhouse gases are dangerous to the public, clearing the way for the agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions.

"This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations," said Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator.

The finding was motivated by a 2007 Supreme Court Case that ordered the EPA to conclude whether or not greenhouse gases were dangerous. If so, the EPA must regulate them under the Clean Air Act.

Such regulations would be new and sweeping, but the finding will also put pressure on Congress to take action. Next week, a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee will debate legislation proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) including so-called "cap and trade" provisions as well as renewable energy standards.

Waxman seized on the finding to push for passage of the legislation.

"The EPA announcement confirms what science has told us--global warming pollution poses a grave threat to the nation's public health and welfare," the Congressman said in a statement. "EPA is legally compelled to take action and I commend them for complying with the law. However, I believe it is Congress that should create a comprehensive framework to combat global warming that will break our dependence on foreign sources of energy and help transform our economy with millions of new clean energy jobs."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, applauded the statement and urged Congress to act.

"EPA, through its scientists, has given us a warning that global warming pollution is a clear, present and future danger to America's families," she said in a statement. "If Congress does not act to pass legislation, then I will call on EPA to take all steps authorized by law to protect our families."

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of EPW, blasted the finding as economically harmful.

"Today's action by the EPA is the beginning of a regulatory barrage that will destroy jobs, raise energy prices for consumers, and undermine America's global competitiveness," Inhofe said in a statement.