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Monday, December 7, 2009

Danger of Carbon-di-oxide to Public Health : EPA

Carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases are dangerous to public health


December 08, 2009 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially declared that carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases are dangerous to public health and welfare, paving the way for much stricter emissions standards.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the “endangerment finding” on December 7. This ruling was needed to allow new emissions regulations for automobiles to move forward, and it sets the stage for large-scale emitters of these gases such as factories, power plants, and refineries to be hit with limitations on their output.

"These long overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the U.S. government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform," Jackson declared in a statement. The Obama administration had indicated earlier in the year that it would make this controversial decision, but the timing of the announcement is meant to coincide with the opening of the global climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The EPA decision gives President Barack Obama a way to show the leaders of the Copenhagen conference that the United States is committed to dealing with climate change. President Obama is scheduled to attend on December 18, and he can be expected to point to the EPA ruling as evidence of U.S. determination to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions.

This is also meant to put roundabout pressure on developing countries such as Communist China and India, where the greatest increase in emissions is expected in the future. But these countries have shown an unwillingness to impede their own rate of development unless more advanced nations lead the way by first cutting their own emissions. The EPA decision is meant to put the pressure back on the developing nations to comply.

Opponents of the EPA ruling, such as U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, stated that it "could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project. The devil will be in the details, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure we don't stifle our economic recovery."

The National Association of Manufacturers, a U.S. industry trade group, said the EPA action wouldn't significantly combat climate change, and "is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy."

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a self-described “public interest group dedicated to free enterprise and limited government,” has even announced that it will file suit in federal court to overturn the EPA endangerment finding. CEI pointed to major scientific issues being ignored by the EPA, including the recent Climategate fraud scandal.

"EPA is clinging for dear life to the notion that the global climate models are holding up,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “In reality, those models are about to sink under the growing weight of evidence that they are fabrications.”

“Today's decision by EPA will trigger costly and time-consuming permitting requirements for tens of thousands of previously unregulated small businesses under the Clean Air Act,” said CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis. “A more potent Anti-Stimulus Package would be hard to imagine.”

“The sensible solution,” Lewis pointed out, “would be for Congress to pass legislation, such as that proposed by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee that would pre-empt the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.”

One can only hope that the arguments of the cooler heads in U.S. business and manufacturing and the Competitive Enterprise Institute will prevail over the global-warming hysteria that has taken hold of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Copenhagen summit welcomes US emissions curbs

UN and EU officials have welcomed the US declaration that greenhouse gases are threatening to human health.

An EU spokesman said the announcement showed "a degree of resolve" on the part of President Barack Obama to address climate change.

The US move came as delegates from 192 countries got down to work at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

Danish PM Lars Loekke Rasmussen has said the summit is an "opportunity the world cannot afford to miss".

The US declaration could mean the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can order cuts in emissions without the approval of Congress. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN scientific network on climate change, said the Obama administration was "showing what it can do, even while legislation is pending".

"It also sends a powerful signal to Congress. It shows a degree of resolve on the part of the president," he told the Associated Press news agency.

The environment minister for Sweden - which currently holds the EU presidency - said the outcome of the summit depended mostly "on what will be delivered by the United States and China".

Andreas Carlgren said he would be "astonished" if US President Barack Obama did not offer further concessions when he arrives at the summit next week.

The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington said the US announcement had been expected for some time, but still sends an important signal to leaders attending the summit that Mr Obama is intent on passing legislation to curb emissions.

'Our chance'

As the Copenhagen summit opened, Mr Rasmussen told delegates the world was looking to them to safeguard humanity.

He said a "strong and ambitious climate change agreement" was needed.

"By the end, we must be able to deliver back to the world what was granted us here today: hope for a better future," he said.

Connie Hedegaard, conference president, said political will to address climate change has never been - and never will be - stronger.

"This is our chance. If we miss it, it could take years before we got a new and better one. If ever," she said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has praised France for taking political leadership in the climate change debate.

He said President Nicolas Sarkozy had been "instrumental in bringing the current stage of the negotiation to where we are now".

Meanwhile British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he wants European leaders to commit to deeper cuts in carbon emissions than previously agreed.

The EU has so far only been willing to increase its emissions target if an international deal is reached at the Copenhagen climate summit.

Mr Brown's comments come as the UK's official climate watchdog said a new aviation policy was needed to limit an increase in flights.

The report by the independent Committee on Climate Change said it had discussed ideas like levying extra taxes and issuing flying allowances to reduce air travel.

The main areas for discussion at the Copenhagen summit include:

  • Targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by developed countries

  • Financial support for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change by developing countries

  • A carbon trading scheme aimed at ending the destruction of the world's forests by 2030

Any agreement made at Copenhagen is intended to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012.

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