EPA sends greenhouse gases finding to White House
By Juliet Eilperin
The Environmental Protection Agency has sent its final scientific finding on greenhouse gases to the White House, agency officials said Monday, a step that could trigger regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Sources said the document concludes the emissions pose a threat to the public's health and welfare. The agency did not release its finding, which was issued as a draft in April. The Office of Management and Budget now has 90 days to sign off on it.
Environmentalists embraced the move as a sign that the Obama administration is moving ahead on global warming policy less than a month before U.N.-sponsored climate talks begin in Copenhagen.
"As Copenhagen approaches, this step just enforces that -- one way or another -- a significant portion of U.S. emissions will be regulated very, very soon," said Josh Dorner, a spokesman for Clean Energy Works, an advocacy group.
Keith McCoy, vice president for energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said his members are worried that the Obama administration would put in place rules on greenhouse gases before Congress had a chance to pass climate legislation. While the House has passed a climate bill, the Senate is unlikely to take up its version of the measure before next year.
"We're concerned that EPA is moving forward before Congress," McCoy said. "We believe Congress should take the lead on an issue that has such a huge impact on manufacturers and the potential costs of manufacturing."
The endangerment finding was prompted by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling which ordered the EPA to determine whether greenhouse gases constituted a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
EPA released a statement Monday saying it has submitted the endangerment finding "for interagency review. This is the next step in the regulatory process. Nothing has been finalized at this point, and the April 2009 proposed findings are still just that -- proposed and being reviewed through the regulatory process."
But Frank O'Donnell, who heads the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said the submissions suggests the administration is trying to finalize the proposal before its negotiators leave for the climate talks starting Dec. 7.
"They don't want to go to Copenhagen empty-handed," he said.
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