EPA’s new rules on climate change

After years of foot-dragging in previous administrations, the Environmental Protection Agency today published its proposed rules to fight climate change.

EPA proposed rules on GHG

EPA proposed rules on GHG

Acting under provisions of the Clean Air Act, the EPA published the proposed rules in today’s Federal Register, announced two public hearings on the rules and set a deadline for public comments (June 23, 2009).

The hearings will be held in Arlington, VA, on May 19th, and in Seattle, WA, on May 21st.

The EPA’s summary is reprinted below. A PDF copy of the proposed rules can be downloaded here.

EPA Summary

Today the Administrator is proposing to find that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations. Concentrations of greenhouse gases are at unprecedented levels compared to the recent and distant past. These high atmospheric levels are the unambiguous result of human emissions, and are very likely the cause of the observed increase in average temperatures and other climatic changes. The effects of climate change observed to date and projected to occur in the future-including but not limited to the increased likelihood of more frequent and intense heat waves, more wildfires, degraded air quality, more heavy downpours and flooding, increased drought, greater sea level rise, more intense storms, harm to water resources, harm to agriculture, and harm to wildlife and ecosystems-are effects on public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act. In light of the likelihood that greenhouse gases cause these effects, and the magnitude of the effects that are occurring and are very likely to occur in the future, the Administrator proposes to find that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. She proposes to make this finding specifically with respect to six greenhouse gases that together constitute the root of the climate change problem: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

The Administrator is also proposing to find that the combined emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines are contributing to this mix of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Thus, she proposes to find that the emissions of these substances from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines are contributing to air pollution which is endangering public health and welfare under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.


EPA’s website has an extensive collection of background material on the history leading up to today’s publication.

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