EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Threaten Health and Environment

In a press release obviously timed to coincide with the opening of the Copenhagen climate change summit, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced that greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of the American people: 12/07/2009: EPA: Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment / Science overwhelmingly shows greenhouse gas concentrations at unprecedented levels due to human activity.

EPA’s endangerment finding covers emissions of six key greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of scrutiny and intense analysis for decades by scientists in the United States and around the world.

Scientific consensus shows that as a result of human activities, GHG concentrations in the atmosphere are at record high levels and data shows that the Earth has been warming over the past 100 years, with the steepest increase in warming in recent decades. The evidence of human-induced climate change goes beyond observed increases in average surface temperatures; it includes melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans due to excess carbon dioxide, changing precipitation patterns, and changing patterns of ecosystems and wildlife.

President Obama and Administrator Jackson have publicly stated that they support a legislative solution to the problem of climate change and Congress’ efforts to pass comprehensive climate legislation. However, climate change is threatening public health and welfare, and it is critical that EPA fulfill its obligation to respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants.

EPA issued the proposed findings in April 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received more than 380,000 comments, which were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of the final findings.

This is a welcome change from the obstructionist policies of the Bush administration: Survey Finds Bush Administration Interfering with EPA Scientists.

WASHINGTON, DC, April 24, 2008 (ENS) - The Bush administration has frequently meddled with scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a survey released today by a scientific advocacy group. The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that nearly two-thirds of the 1,586 staff EPA scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained of recent political interference with their work.

The reported interference is greatest in offices where scientists write regulations and conduct risk assessments.

“Our investigation found an agency in crisis,” said Francesca Grifo, director of Union of Concerned Scientists’s Scientific Integrity Program, who contends the report reflects an effort by the administration to distort science to “accommodate a narrow political agenda.”

The investigation shows that researchers “are generally continuing to do their work, but their scientific findings are tossed aside when it comes time to write regulations,” said Grifo.

The report is the latest addition to a long list of complaints by scientists across the federal government who say the Bush administration has inappropriately interfered with their work and frequently manipulated science for the benefit of industry.

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