Posted by: Steven M. Taber | December 7, 2009

EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding

At a press conference this afternoon in Washington D.C., Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson issued EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health and the environment.  Administrator Jackson said that this decision is based on a “thorough examination of the scientific evidence and careful consideration of the over 400,000 public comments.  The EPA also found that the GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat, thereby providing the “legal foundation” for finalizing the “Clean Cars” program.

Administrator Jackson stated that the findings are in response to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts v. EPA wherein the Court decided that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of “air pollutants.”  She pointed out that the findings do not in and of themselves impose any emission reduction requirements, but rather allow EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation.  It also allows EPA to move forward with its “tailoring rule” which will require major sources of GHG to take steps to limit emissions from new facilities by using Best Available Control Technology (BACT).

Ms. Jackson did address the “Climategate” hacked e-mails briefly, both in her prepared remarks and in response to a question.  She said that any requests to delay the endangerment finding based the existence of the hacked e-mails were simply delay tactics and not based on any of the information contained in the e-mails.  Ms. Jackson stated several times that there is no information in the hacked e-mails that undermines the science and studies that the EPA relied upon in making its finding. Later, she remarked that there are other datasets other than the CRU dataset, which have been peer-reviewed and verified, that sow the impact of GHG on the climate.  Because of the information contained in those datasets and because of the information EPA had received and reviewed, the EPA saw no reason to delay issuing its finding.

Ms. Jackson also addressed the interplay between this ruling and the pending climate bills in the Senate and the House.  Several times she said that she did not view this ruling and the climate change bills as an “either/or,” and that she “looks forward to working with Congress and the President” in developing reasonable climate change legislation.  Ms. Jackon said that EPA will continue its work on the regulatory front and believes that we still need new legislation to address climate change – the Clean Air Act and any new climate change legislation can be complementary.  However, when asked about when new rules would be issued that would require existing sources to regulate GHG emissions, Ms. Jackson demurred, and talked instead about how the climate change bill will be taken up soon.

Streaming posts of Administrator Jackson’s press conference were on Twitter at

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