WASHINGTON (Dec. 7, 2009) — On the first day of an international climate change summit in Copenhagen, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued its first-ever unequivocal statement that greenhouse gases “threaten the public health and welfare of the American people.”
A thorough review of the scientific evidence clearly identifies greenhouse gases as the primary driver of climate change and longer, hotter heat waves, with accompanying ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, the EPA said.
Highway vehicles account for nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. The agency said its proposed greenhouse gas standards for light-duty vehicles would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons while conserving 1.8 billion barrels of oil.
The EPA issued its preliminary greenhouse gas findings in April 2009 and received more than 380,000 public comments during a 60-day comment period. Among the organizations disputing the greenhouse gas findings is the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
“The endangerment finding will have a cascading effect on the ability of all manufacturers to grow and prosper,” said Keith McCoy, NAM vice president of energy & resources policy, in a press release. “By declaring GHG emissions a threat to public health and welfare through its endangerment finding, the EPA is paving the way to begin regulating carbon emissions across the board.”
The United Nations Climate Change Conference began today and continues through Dec. 18. With officials from 192 countries planning to attend, the conference will attempt to develop a successor to the environmental protocol forged in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, which is set to end in 2012.