March 23, 2009
The White House is reviewing a proposed finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that global warming is a threat to public health and welfare.
Such a declaration would be the first step to regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and could have broad economic and environmental ramifications. It also would likely spur action by Congress to address climate change more broadly.
[efoods]The White House acknowledged Monday that the EPA had transmitted its proposed finding on global warming to the Office of Management and Budget, but provided no details. It also cautioned that the Obama administration, which sees responding to climate change a top priority, nevertheless is ready to move cautiously when it comes to actually regulating greenhouse gases, preferring to have Congress act on the matter.
The Supreme Court two years ago directed the EPA to decide whether greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, pose a threat public health and welfare because they are warming the earth. If such a finding is made, these emissions are required to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, the court said.
“I think this is just the step in that process,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, noting the Supreme Court ruling. Another White House official, speaking anonymously in deference to Gibbs, predicted “a long process” before any rules would be expected to be issued on heat-trapping emissions.