EPA Declares Greenhouse Gases as Public Health Hazard

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Monday declared greenhouse gas emissions a public health hazard that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

“These long-overdue findings cement 2009′s place in history as the year when the United States Government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said during a news conference. “Business leaders, security experts, government officials, concerned citizens and the United States Supreme Court have called for enduring, pragmatic solutions to reduce the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change.”

She said the declaration allows the federal government to move toward clean energy reform that will cut greenhouse gases and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly. Climate change also increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, among other things, the EPA said in a release.

EPA’s final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The findings don’t impose any emission reduction requirements but allow the EPA to finalize the greenhouse gases standards proposed earlier in 2009 for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rule-making with the Department of Transportation.

The endangerment finding covers emissions of six greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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