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EPA: Greenhouse Gases a Threat to Public Health

On-road vehicles contribute nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced today, as the feds target wide-scale cuts in emissions through year 2016.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule in 2007 that GHGs fit within the definition of air pollutants stated in the Clean Air Act. Today’s EPA announcement was in response to that decision and were made in advance of federal attempts to finalize proposed GHG standards that were proposed earlier this year. With the 2010 diesel emissions regulations set to take effect for all newly manufactured vehicles at the beginning of the year, a final GHG rule would reduce those emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012-2016 vehicles.

GHGs are defined as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The EPA announcement confirmed that GHGs created by human activity are increasing at unprecedented rates.

According to data culled from “hundreds of researchers” and after reviewing 380,000 public comments filed after Jackson signed a proposed endangerment and cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, EPA found that 23 percent of GHG emissions result from on-road vehicles. These emissions threaten public health and welfare of American citizens. Jackson said the accumulation of carbon dioxide and GHGs can lead to longer heatwaves that adversely affect health by increasing the risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

“These long-overdue findings cement 2009’s place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform,” she added. “Business leaders, security experts, government officials, concerned citizens and the United States Supreme Court have called for enduring, pragmatic solutions to reduce the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change.

“This continues our work towards clean energy reform that will cut GHGs and reduce the dependence on foreign oil that threatens our national security and our economy.”

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