EPA Says Greenhouse Gasses Are Pollutants

Ruling could have unintended consequences.

Published on: Mar 25, 2009

The Environmental Protection Agency says greenhouse gas emissions are pollutants that endanger the public's health and welfare. These findings could trigger a broad regulatory process affecting much of the U.S. economy as well as the nation's future environmental trajectory. The agency's move reversed one of the Bush administration's landmark decisions on climate change, and it indicated anew that President Obama's appointees will push to address the issue of warming.

William Kovacs, vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says by moving forward with the endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, EPA is putting in motion a set of decisions that may have far-reaching unintended consequences.

"Once the finding is made, no matter how limited, some environmental groups will sue to make sure it is applied to all aspects of the Clean Air Act," Kovacs said.

The White House emphasized that the administration is simply fulfilling its legal obligations and will still press for a legislative solution to the question of curbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the President has made clear that to combat climate change; his strong preference is for Congress to pass energy security legislation that includes a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The White House has not issued a specific timeline on how to proceed.