After years of denial, suppression, and delay, the United States government has finally officially recognized that greenhouse gases are dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The Obama administration has slowly worked on the decision, first sent to the White House by the Environmental Protection Agency in March, then opened for months of public comment through the summer. Less than an hour after the United Nations Climate Change Conference completed its opening day in Copenhagen, Denmark, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made the “significant climate announcement” at 1:15 pm that global warming pollution endangers the health and welfare of the American public:
This administration will not ignore science or the law any longer, nor will we avoid the responsibility we owe to our children and our grandchildren. Today, I’m proud to announce that EPA has finalized its endangerment finding on greenhouse gas pollution and is now authorized and obligated to make reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
In 1992, the United States signed an international treaty to “prevent dangerous human-induced interference with the climate system” from greenhouse gases. Seventeen years later, after the continued accumulation of greenhouse gases have decimated the world’s glaciers and Arctic ice cap, acidified the oceans, intensified hurricanes and droughts, increased smog and wildfires, and driven species to extinction, the Barack Obama administration is recognizing its legal obligation to begin regulating this deadly threat.