Friday, April 17, 2009
The NY Times reported that U.S. EPA will issue a formal endangerment finding today, declaring carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that threaten public health and welfare. This will cause EPA to begin the process of regulating these substances from vehicles, require the technology-based New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for stationary sources to cover greenhouse gases (GHGs), and require Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and New Source Review (NSR) permits for new and major modifications of large stationary sources to cover GHGs.
In briefing Congress in advance of the ruling, EPA said the science supporting the endangerment finding was “compelling and overwhelming.” The ruling triggers a 60-day comment period before any proposed regulations governing emissions of greenhouse gases are published. The endangerment finding is issued somewhat over two years after the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA ordered EPA to make a determination about whether GHGs are harmful to human health or the environment.
By issuing the finding, EPA will force Congress to grapple with and enact global warming legislation, or face the prospect that EPA will use the Clean Air Act to regulate GHGs. The Clean Air Act regulatory structure is far less tailored to GHGs than global warming legislation would be and is arguably far more draconian than global warming legislation proposed to date.