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EPA Finding Opens Door to New Emissions Regulations

An EPA report has labeled greenhouse gases as pollutants that threaten public health, paving the way for possible new emissions regulations. Analysts examine what the move means.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Our lead story: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally declared today that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a significant threat to public health. The finding opens the door to new government action on climate change.

    NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The EPA announcement was based on a review of possible health dangers from global warming. It focused on carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases released by cars and trucks, power plants, and industrial sources.

    The agency found, "In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act."

    The Supreme Court ruled nearly two years ago that law gave the EPA the authority it needed to act on global warming. The Bush administration strongly opposed invoking the statute for that purpose.

    President Obama and his new EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, have said they prefer congressional action. They've called for a new system to let industry cap and trade emissions.

    But automakers and power generators have warned controls on emissions would mean severe economic damage. Those sources account for half of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

    In a statement today, the National Association of Manufacturers said new regulations "will add costly delays to manufacturers seeking to expand operations or upgrade their manufacturing processes in a manner that conserves energy."

    The EPA now must hold a 60-day public comment period before issuing a final ruling. Ultimately, the agency could issue its own regulations if Congress does not act.

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