For Immediate Release, April 17, 2009
Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5309 or (415) 310-1549 (cell)
EPA Finds Greenhouse Gas Emissions Endanger Public Health and Welfare
Clean Air Act Regulation to Address the Climate Crisis Long Overdue
Washington, D.C.— Today the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles endanger both public health and welfare. Unfortunately, the Obama administration failed to accompany the proposed endangerment finding with any actual proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a finding that should have been made years ago. The evidence of the catastrophic impacts of global warming on public health and welfare is overwhelming and incontrovertible,” said Matt Vespa, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “With the polar ice caps melting, polar bears drowning, and sea level rising, we don’t have any further time to lose. The Obama administration must immediately begin the real task of issuing regulations under the Clean Air Act to actually reduce greenhouse emissions.”
An endangerment finding is the first step toward regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, and comes as the result of the April 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts vs. EPA, which overturned the Bush administration’s refusal to regulate emissions from automobiles under the Act.
A finding that greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles endangers public health and welfare triggers regulation under many other sections of the Clean Air Act and requires EPA to regulate emissions from other mobile sources, including ships, aircraft, and off-road engines, as well as stationary sources of pollution such as coal-fired power plants.
The Obama administration is under intense pressure from anti-regulatory and industry groups to continue to delay climate regulation. While these groups often try to justify their opposition with economic arguments, past experience shows that Clean Air Act regulation makes our economy stronger and more productive.
According to EPA’s own conservative data, the Clean Air Act has provided us with trillions of dollars of benefits. In its first two decades alone, the Act provided benefits – including decreased healthcare costs and reduced lost work time – worth $22.2 trillion. These benefits are more than 42 times the estimated cost of regulation.
“Leading scientists warn we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate catastrophe, and the Clean Air Act is our best tool for doing so. For four decades the Clean Air Act has protected the air we breathe, saved thousands of lives, and produced economic benefits at least 42 times the cost of regulation,” said Vespa. “EPA should immediately issue Clean Air Act regulations to effectively and efficiently reduce greenhouse emissions.”
EPA will accept public comments on today’s draft finding for 60 days.