The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Friday submitted its greenhouse gas (GHG) endangerment finding — that GHG emissions contribute to air pollution and may endanger public health — to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review, an agency spokeswoman said.

“This is the next step in the regulatory process. Nothing has been finalized at this point, and the April…proposed findings are still just that — proposed and being reviewed through the regulatory process,” the EPA said (see Daily GPI, April 20).

With the finding in April, the EPA set the stage for it to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). If the OMB clears the EPA’s finding, the agency could move forward under the existing law with rules targeting GHG emissions in the absence of action from Capitol Hill.

The House in June passed legislation to cap GHG emissions, but a bill isn’t expected to get out of the Senate this year. Some even doubt that climate change will clear Congress in 2010 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 6; June 29).

The endangerment finding followed a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that directed EPA to revisit the regulation of GHG emissions after the agency rejected a request to initiate a rulemaking on the gases blamed for global warming (see Daily GPI, April 3, 2007).

The proposed endangerment finding is based on the study of six gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride — that have been the subject of analysis by scientists around the world. “The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate,” EPA said in April.

Energy trade associations and large industrial groups decried the EPA finding, saying that the CAA is not the proper vehicle with which to regulate GHG emissions.

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