EPA report on climate change health & welfare impacts: Interview comments on Free Speech Radio News


In a July 18 interview on Free Speech Radio News, CSW director Rick Piltz commented on the release by EPA of a new federal scientific assessment of climate change impacts on human health and welfare, and how the administration is determined to avoid regulating greenhouse gas emissions in spite of the research findings. See Details for comments.

See our earlier posts:
July 17: EPA releases report identifying harmful effects of climate change on human health
July 17: Media coverage of EPA release of climate change health effects assessment
Transcript (with light editing) of CSW director Rick Piltz’s comments in a July 18 interview on Free Speech Radio News:

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program, through the Environmental Protection Agency, released a major scientifically based assessment report on the implications of global climate change for human health and public welfare. It focused mostly on the United States. This is about as comprehensive a synthesis of what is known about these problems as has been put out by the federal research program. It was approved by the administration, so its an official government report.

It’s a long report, but basically, from the scientific research it identifies a number of likely threats to human health and welfare from continued rising temperatures and global climate disruption. Health effects from increased frequency and severity of heat waves, exposure of low-lying coastal areas to severe storms and sea level rise, increased frequency and severity of drought, river flooding, wildfires, and so forth – a wide range of impacts that can have a range of implications for human health and for disruption of our society.

This is a very politically sensitive issue for the Bush administration. Last year the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA that the agency has to consider greenhouse gases as air pollutants that may need to be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

The administration had been saying they didn’t have the authority to do that, but the Supreme Court said oh yes you do have that authority, greenhouse gases do meet the definition of an air pollutant. You have to determine whether they endanger public health and welfare and, if so, they’re to be regulated under that law.

This is a hoop the administration doesn’t want to jump through. It does not want to regulate greenhouse gases. So anything in the way of scientific reports that point to what we’ve been calling the “endangerment finding” have been kept under wraps. EPA now has produced two of these reports by two different parts of the agency. [See second report here (2.2 MB).] The reports are available, but it’s not the sort of thing that the administration wants to really give any publicity to.

The main thing from these scientific assessments is that there’s plenty of evidence, from multiple studies, including the federal government’s own reports, that points to the “endangerment” of human health and welfare. But if they acknowledge that, if they actually translate the science into policymaking with any credibility and integrity, then they have to regulate. And they are bound and determined not to regulate.

But it’s such a hot topic that some of the media did pick up on the report. The Washington Post had a front page story on it this morning, and the Associated Press and Reuters did stories. They recognize the importance of the issue.

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