The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, 415 632-5309

EPA Finds Greenhouse Gas Emissions Endanger Public Health and Welfare

Clean Air Act Regulation to Address the Climate Crisis Long Overdue


Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles endanger both public health and welfare. Unfortunately, the Obama administration failed to accompany the proposed endangerment finding with any actual proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is a finding that should have been made years ago. The evidence of the catastrophic impacts of global warming on public health and welfare is overwhelming and incontrovertible," said Matt Vespa, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "With the polar ice caps melting, polar bears drowning, and sea level rising, we don't have any further time to lose. The Obama administration must immediately begin the real task of issuing regulations under the Clean Air Act to actually reduce greenhouse emissions."

An endangerment finding is the first step towards regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, and comes as the result of the April, 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts vs. EPA, which overturned the Bush administration's refusal to regulate emissions from automobiles under the Act.

A finding that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles endangers public health and welfare triggers regulation under many other sections of the Clean Air Act and requires the EPA to regulate emissions from other mobile sources including ships, aircraft, and off-road engines, as well as stationary sources of pollution such as coal fired power plants.

The Obama administration is under intense pressure from anti-regulatory and industry groups to continue to delay climate regulation. While these groups often try to justify their opposition with economic arguments, past experience shows that Clean Air Act regulation makes our economy stronger and more productive.

According to the EPA's own conservative data, the Clean Air Act has provided us with trillions of dollars of benefits. In its first two decades alone, the Act provided benefits including decreased healthcare costs and reduced lost work time worth $22.2 trillion. These benefits exceed the estimated costs of regulation by over 42 times.

"Leading scientists warn we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate catastrophe, and the the Clean Air Act is our best tool for doing so. For four decades the Clean Air Act has protected the air we breathe, saved thousands of lives, and produced economic benefits at least 42 times the cost of regulation," said Vespa. "The EPA should immediately issue Clean Air Act regulations to effectively and efficiently reduce greenhouse emissions."

The EPA will accept public comments on today's draft finding for 60 days.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252