The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Friday denied 10 petitions for reconsideration of its Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.
Led by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, the petitions sought to put the brakes on EPA’s regulatory steps that would serve as the trigger for classifying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Although Section 202(a) covers exhaust from new motor vehicles, regulating GHGs in this context has far broader implications because other sections of the Clean Air Act use the same definition of “pollutant” and the regulatory findings, if allowed to stand, will trigger broader consequences for stationary sources like major power plants, industrial boilers and cement kilns. (EPA’s original findings can be found in the December 15, 2009 Federal Register at 74 FR 66496).
In denying the petitions to reconsider its findings, EPA said that petitioners’ arguments and evidence are inadequate, generally unscientific, and do not show that the underlying science supporting the Endangerment Finding is flawed, misinterpreted by EPA, or inappropriately applied by EPA. The denial can be found in the August 13th Federal Register at 75 FR 49556 and a 3-volume, 360-page compendium supporting EPA’s denials can be found at www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html.
Citing widely-reported e-mails from the United Kingdom-based Climatic Research Unit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change questioning the climate science, the petitioners argued that recent revelations show that the science supporting the EPA’s findings was flawed or questionable, and that EPA should reconsider the Endangerment Finding.
EPA replied that the petitioners’ claims and supporting information do not change or undermine the scientific understanding of how anthropogenic emissions of GHGs cause climate change and how human-induced climate change generates risks and impacts to public health and welfare. “This understanding has been decades in the making and has become more clear over time with the accumulation of evidence,” EPA wrote in response.
“The core defect in petitioners’ arguments is that these arguments are not based on consideration of the body of scientific evidence. Petitioners fail to address the breadth and depth of the scientific evidence and instead rely on an assumption of inaccuracy in the science . . .,” said EPA.
EPA’s response to the petitions shows that EPA remains committed to pursuing regulatory changes that address climate change even as global warming legislation continues to stall in the Congress.