December 8, 2009

EPA makes it official, declares greenhouse gasses a threat to health, environment

The Environmental Protection Agency held a news conference yesterday to declare greenhouse gasses a threat to the public health and environment.

Here's the headline from a news release:

Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment / Science overwhelmingly shows greenhouse gas concentrations at unprecedented levels due to human activity

While we've known for sometime that this was in the works -- following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows EPA to go after greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act -- the announcement makes it official.

And the timing gives the Administration something to hold up at climate talks in Denmark this week. (Doesn't that seem to make it a bit politically motivated instead being based on "science"?)

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said EPA would prefer climate legislation from Congress as a way to move forward with ways reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. She also said the focus would not impact small businesses and only target those who emit 25,000 or more tons of greenhouse gases each year.

While that is a nice thought, a concern here is the courts. A single lawsuit against EPA and a livestock operation, fertilizer company or other ag venture charging that they are emitters and should fall under the regulation and the whole greenhouse gas regulatory structure would be left in a judge's hands. And then it would take legislation just to get back to the intent of EPA's actions.

(Alternatively, future EPA administrators may lower the threshold.)

For reaction from the National Corn Growers Association, click here; American Farm Bureau Federation comments are here.

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