The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202)

More Than 100 Groups Endorse Petition to EPA to Cap Carbon Dioxide Pollution at 350 Parts Per Million

Petition Also Endorsed by Scientist Dr. James Hansen and Sierra Club Board Member Dr. Michael Dorsey


More than 100 groups have issued a letter supporting a legal petition
filed earlier this month by the Center for Biological Diversity and that
would require the Environmental Protection Agency to scientifically establish
national safe limits for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution under
the Clean Air Act. The petition seeks to have greenhouse gases designated as
"criteria" air pollutants and atmospheric CO2 capped at 350 parts per
million (ppm), the level leading scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst
impacts of global warming.

The letter states: "We are
writing in support of the petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity
and to cap greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act['s]...national
ambient air quality (NAAQS) program...For four decades, the Clean Air Act has
protected the air we breathe through a proven, successful system of pollution
control that saves lives and creates economic benefits exceeding its costs by
many times. It's time to fully use our strongest existing tool for reducing
greenhouse gas pollution: the Clean Air Act."

Individuals supporting the petition
include the nation's preeminent climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, and
Sierra Club Board Member Dr. Michael

Said Dr.
Dorsey: "The Center for Biological Diversity and's petition is a
bold step that can further enable President Obama to move in the right direction
to quickly rein in climate change. Organizations and commentators that suggest
the contrary misunderstand the urgency of avoiding a catastrophically
destabilized climate." Dorsey is an assistant professor in Dartmouth College's Environmental Studies Program,
director of the college's Climate Justice Research Project, a national board
member of the Sierra Club and a cofounding board member of Islands

Stated Dr. James Hansen: "Setting science-based
national pollution caps for greenhouse gases -- such as no more than 350
parts per million for CO2 -- would mark a critical step in the fight
against global warming, and this petition is one way to bring us closer to that

Among the diverse group of organizations signing the endorsement letter are Friends of
the Earth, Audubon chapters (ranging from Audubon South Carolina to Golden Gate
Audubon), interfaith groups such as Colorado Interfaith Power and Light,
Eco-Justice Collaborative, Community
Coalition for Environmental Justice of Seattle, Clean Air Carolina, and Utah
Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

"The Clean Air Act is a
bipartisan bill signed by a Republican president. Leading scientists at NASA and
around the world say we need to get to 350 ppm. This petition simply asks EPA to
do its job as science, the law, and common sense require," said Bill McKibben of

"Now is the
time to implement the Clean Air Act. We urge EPA to move swiftly to grant the
petition and use our strongest existing tool -- the Clean Air Act -- to reduce
greenhouse gas pollution now. Any new global warming legislation must build upon
and not replace successful environmental protections," said Bill Snape, senior
counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Obama
administration has proposed emissions reduction targets of just 3 percent below
1990 levels by 2020, far below the cuts of approximately 45 percent necessary to get back to 350 ppm.[1] Our current atmospheric CO2
level is approximately 385 ppm.

The administration has argued that its
hands are tied by the weak cap-and-trade bills passed by the House of
Representatives and under consideration by the Senate. In a report released in
Copenhagen, titled Yes, He Can: President Obama's Power to Make
an International Climate Commitment Without Waiting for Congress, the Center
concludes that the president need not wait for Congress to act before taking
strong action to reduce U.S. emissions. "President Obama can lead, rather than
follow, by using his power under the Clean Air Act and other laws to achieve
deep and rapid greenhouse emissions reductions from major polluters,"
said Kassie
Siegel, director of the Center's Climate Law Institute, who attended the United
Nations climate talks in Copenhagen.

Click here to read the endorsement

Click here
to read the petition.

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.

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