(Washington Post) The Obama administration formally declared Monday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public's health and welfare, a move that lays the groundwork for an economy-wide carbon cap even if Congress fails to enact climate legislation.
The move, announced by Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson, comes as the largest climate change conference in history gets underway in Copenhagen. It finalizes an initial "endangerment finding" by the government in April.
Speaking in an ornate room at EPA headquarters, Jackson said that greenhouse gases are "disrupting the natural balance in our atmosphere and changing our climate . . . The overwhelming amount of scientific evidence shows the threat is real."
Jackson said that she did not know when the EPA would reveal detailed plans for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, or if the agency would wait to see if the U.S. Senate passes climate legislation early next year. Jackson said that legislation was still the best way to tackle the problem -- but said she was not trying to prod Congress with Monday's finding.
Instead, Jackson said, the administration was bound to follow the U.S. Supreme Court's order in 2007 to determine if these emissions endanger public health.
"There are no more excuses for delay," she said. "This administration will not ignore science and the law any longer."