Environmental Protection Agency to Actually Start Protecting Environment

Kate Sheppard, GRIST: The Environmental Protection Agency said it has determined that planet-warming greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and welfare. The long-expected finding, set in motion two years ago by a Supreme Court ruling, moves the Obama administration one step closer to regulating carbon dioxide emissions from a number of sources across the country. But it leaves unanswered questions about how the agency will go forward and which industries will be most affected.

The EPA reached the decision last month, and earlier this week the agency’s determination cleared White House review. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said, will “trigger the beginnings of regulation of CO2 for this country.”

Industry groups are wringing their hands about what it will mean to have greenhouse gases regulated under the Clean Air Act, and enviros are chomping at the bit for the agency to get to work. While groups across the spectrum would prefer that Congress pass a new climate bill to address the matter, in the absence of that, the EPA is compelled to start regulating with the laws already on books.

“There’s no time left to waste,” said David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate center. “We want the EPA to do what it can under the existing Clean Air Act, because that’s what the law is today … We have a problem ahead of us that we’re long overdue in dealing with.”