WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ought to reconsider its finding that greenhouse gas emissions pose a public health danger, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Monday.
The EPA's endangerment finding issued late last year paves the way for emissions regulations under the federal Clean Air Act, which have been called for by several state attorneys general, including Jerry Brown of California.
But the Chamber's chief legal counsel, Steven Law, said Monday it would be a mistake for the federal government to enact greenhouse regulations based on the endangerment finding, which deals with six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
"The Chamber believes that the right way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere is through bipartisan legislation and comprehensive international agreements," Law said. "The wrong way is through the EPA's endangerment finding, which triggers Clean Air Act regulation."
The Chamber's petition for reconsideration to the EPA filed Monday does not discuss scientific issues related to climate change but instead focuses on admissions by officials.
"The Chamber has long warned that regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act would be bad for jobs and local economies," Law said. "Last October, four months after the deadline for the public to submit comments on the endangerment finding, the Agency formally acknowledged the 'absurdity' of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act."
The Chamber, which owns this publication, has asked the EPA to stay its endangerment finding until the agency acts on the group's petition for reconsideration.
The EPA's endangerment was issued in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that greenhouse gasses fit within the U.S. Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The endangerment finding was needed before the EPA can regulate the greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants, and factories under federal law.
For his part, Attorney General Brown, who is running for California governor, has said when it comes to enacting regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, it's a matter of being safe than sorry.
He has said peer-reviewed scientists at leading academic institutions -- including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- have released evidence that the planet is warming. The Democrat likened regulations to an insurance policy against catastrophe.
Brown unsuccessfully asked President George W. Bush's administration to approve California's preemption waiver to enforce its own tailpipe emissions standards, enacted in 2002, which require stricter fuel efficiency requirements in new cars and trucks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under the Obama administration, has since granted California's request for a waiver to enforce its legislatively-approved emissions standards, aimed at achieving a 30 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions by 2016.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.