The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a proposal to the White House that could lay the groundwork for regulating greenhouse gas pollutants that cause climate change.
The EPA’s March 20 proposal is significant because it states that global warming is endangering the public's health and welfare, a reversal of the Bush administration’s landmark decisions to reject scientific and technical recommendations in favor of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming pollution.
“This is the beginning of the end of official climate denial by our own government,” David Moulton, The Wilderness Society’s director of climate policy, said of the news.
The Bush administration maintained the unsustainable position that allowing uncontrolled dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere was not dangerous to the American public, Moulton explained.
“Now that we know this is likely to cause an economic, environmental and national security catastrophe, we know we must stop mincing words and start regulating these harmful gases,” Moulton added.
The proposal sent to the White House would begin the regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, according to a story in the Washington Post.
For many years, the Bush administration insisted such action was not legal, but in 2007 the Supreme Court rejected that position in Massachusetts v. EPA. Subsequently, the Bush administration argued that even if it met the definition of a pollutant, carbon dioxide was not a danger to the public health and welfare and therefore need not be regulated.
The EPA’s action now makes clear that the Obama administration intends to use its existing authorities under the Clean Air Act to require polluters to reduce or eliminate the unregulated dumping of carbon dioxide into the air.