Big EPA announcement could lead to stronger anti-pollution rules - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Big EPA announcement could lead to stronger anti-pollution rules

SPOKANE, Wash. - A big announcement from the Obama Administration Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases not only pollute the air they may also endanger your health. That opens the door for a new round of rules limiting, for the first time, gases linked to global warming.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court told the EPA to look into whether it should use the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions linked to climate change. This announcement is the end of that review, but the beginning of what could be a whole new approach to clean air.

There's "compelling and overwhelming evidence," the EPA said Friday, that carbon dioxide and five other gases that produce heat threaten public health.

Environmentalists agree.

David Doniger of the National Resources Defense Council says "it causes killer heat waves, it makes smog levels worse, it makes hurricanes stronger. These are all threats to our health."

The EPA's decision opens the door for the Obama Administration to do what the Bush Administration opposed: put limits on pollution from cars, power plants, factories, and other emitters.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "we could go along way towards meeting our global goals to greenhouse gas emissions if we were more energy efficient."

There was widespread reaction.

Automakers say they're already making cleaner cars. They admit carbon dioxide from tailpipes contributes to climate change but aren't as firm on whether it can make you sick.

Dave McCurdy of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says "the direct causal connection I think is, I'm gonna leave to the scientists but it's clear that this was a legal decision and a political decision."

The EPA now begins creating rules to reduce greenhouse gases.

A former EPA attorney believes the agency will now have much more authority over manufacturers on the front end, rather than after they've polluted.

Roger Martella, former Bush EPA General Counsel, says "now you have EPA, an environmental regulatory agency, working on redesigning cars when in the past that would have been subject to the Department of Transportation or other agencies with specific expertise in those areas."

He predicts energy costs will go up as manufacturers are forced to find new ways to make their operations greener and cleaner.

On Capitol Hill, Congress had already been working on writing new energy laws. It remains to be seen if they will pre-empt or complement what the EPA is doing.
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