The EPA is right on schedule to issue a greenhouse gas endangerment finding before Earth Day.
The agency wrapped up its scientific review of the health and climate dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions last week and submitted a proposal for an official endangerment finding to the White House on Friday, according to Office of Management and Budget records.
The text of the proposal wasn’t released, but it is expected to say that the EPA has found greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to human health and welfare.
"This is historic news," said Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch. "It will set the stage for the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution. And it is likely to help light a fire under Congress to get moving."
The next step for the endangerment finding is an interagency review, which should be finished by April 10, according to documents leaked earlier this month. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is then expected to sign the proposed endangerment finding on April 16, starting a 60-day comment period.
The official endangerment finding will open the door to stricter regulations of greenhouse gas emissions by treating carbon dioxide and other climate-changing emissions from cars, factories, power plants and other sources as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the finding two years ago in Massachusetts v. EPA, but its ruling was ignored by the Bush administration. As soon as the Obama administration moved into the White House, 18 state attorneys general requested action. Jackson’s EPA said then that it was "confident that people will be satisfied by how quickly and carefully the agency addresses this matter."
The filing today lends credence to Sen. Barbara Boxer’s warning last week to members of her Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and fellow Congress members who have been dragging their feet on climate change legislation.
“A lot of my colleagues seem to feel that if we don’t act on [climate] legislation then nothing is going to happen,” Boxer said. “If Congress does nothing, we’ll be watching EPA do our job.”
Jackson is proving once again that her EPA isn’t afraid to take the actions needed to protect the planet for future generations.