EPA climate endangerment finding clears White House review


The U.S. EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas endangerment finding cleared the White House review process on April 13, paving the way for an official announcement detailing the threats posed by global warming to both public health and welfare, the New York Times and Greenwire reported today. This action by the White House to back EPA is a key step in undoing the Bush-Cheney legacy on climate science and policy.

Robin Bravender reports:

President Obama’s EPA inherited the global warming review following an April 2007 Supreme Court decision that ordered the Bush administration to reconsider whether greenhouse gas emissions are pollutants subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

EPA sent its proposed “endangerment finding” on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the White House last month for review. According to an internal EPA document obtained by Greenwire, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to sign the document Thursday, followed by a 60-day public comment period and two public hearings before the proposal can be finalized….(Full Greenwire article here, by subscription)

Under the Bush-Cheney administration, EPA stonewalled in complying with the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA that the agency must determine whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare.  If so, the Court ruled, they must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. EPA senior personnel put together a report with a finding that, in fact, greenhouse gases are an endangerment to public health and welfare.  The White House suppressed EPA’s endangerment report and wouldn’t allow EPA to act on it. And when the science side of EPA came out with U.S. Climate Change Science Program report on climate change impacts on public health that also could be said to essentially lay out the evidence for an endangerment finding, the White House and EPA officials ignored it.

The pivotal EPA action—or inaction—on climate change during the past eight years was former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson’s failure to stand up to White House suppression of the agency’s proposed endangerment finding.  Senior personnel at EPA had put together a draft rulemaking pursuant to their endangerment finding and the requirements of the Supreme Court ruling.  Johnson had signed off on moving forward with it, in accord with his authority under the law.  But the White House made it clear that they would not take action on it.  And just as he did when the White House ensured that EPA would rule against California’s right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in that state under the Clean Air Act, and in other instances during his tenure, Johnson sold out.  Given the choice between pushing back, with principled resignation if necesssary, or collaboration with the administration’s corruption of the science-policy connection, he chose to collaborate.  Yesterday’s action by the White House to back EPA is a key step in undoing the Bush-Cheney legacy on climate science and policy.  See our earlier post

On the EPA “endangerment” finding called for by the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, see our earlier posts from 2008:
July 20: EPA report on climate change health & welfare impacts: Interview comments on Free Speech Radio News

July 17: EPA releases report identifying harmful effects of climate change on human health

May 29:  Government report provides strong evidence U.S. endangered by climate change impacts

March 12: Waxman to EPA: Why is work on required greenhouse gas regulation being blocked?.

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