[JURIST] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] announced Monday a finding that greenhouse gases threaten [press release] public health and the environment. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson [official profile] signed two separate findings [materials] Monday: that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations," and that emissions from motor vehicles contribute to greenhouse gas pollution. With these findings, the EPA can now take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act [text, PDF], which the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 gave the EPA authority [JURIST report] to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases by automobiles. At a press conference Monday, Jackson said [prepared remarks]:
In 2007, the US Supreme Court handed down perhaps the most significant decision ever reached in environmental law. The Court ruled that the Clean Air Act, the landmark 1970 law aimed at protecting our air, is written to include greenhouse gas pollution. That verdict echoed what many scientists, policymakers, and concerned citizens have said for years: there are no more excuses for delay.
Regrettably, there was continued delay. But this administration will not ignore science or the law any longer, nor will we avoid the responsibility we owe to our children and grandchildren. Today, I'm proud to announce that EPA has finalized its endangerment finding on greenhouse gas pollution, and is now authorized and obligated to take reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
The EPA first announced its proposed finding [JURIST report] in April before undertaking a 60-day public comment period. The new findings will enable the EPA to act without Congressional action on emissions.
Monday's announcement coincides with the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) [official website] in Copenhagen, Denmark. US President Barack Obama acknowledged [JURIST report] last month that it is unlikely that conference will produce a legally binding agreement addressing global climate change. The 192-nation conference was originally designed to produce a new global climate change treaty, replacing the controversial 1997 Kyoto Protocol [JURIST news archive], expiring in 2012, which the US did not sign.