Last Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that climate-warming greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, pose a danger to human health and welfare, according to the New York Times. EPA sent its finding to the Office of Management and Budget for review. Once the budget office clears the finding, it can be signed by Lisa P. Jackson, EPA’s Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson. There is also likely to be a public comment period on the proposed finding, but likely none that will prevent the endangerment finding from being finalized.

EPA has been charged for decades with regulating air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and, as the Supreme Court recognized in Massachusetts v. EPA (2007), GHG emissions are air pollutants subject to Clean Air Act regulations. An endangerment determination would confirm the Agency’s power, but also its obligation, to regulate greenhouse gases now.

A complete review -- including White House consent -- is expected to be completed by April 10 and the proposal officially signed by EPA Administrator on April 16, according an internal document presented to White House officials earlier this month and leaked to the news media. The endangerment proposal would be subjected to a 60-day public comment period after publication in the Federal Register on April 30 before moving into the final rule stage.

A review of the leaked internal EPA documents on this issue reveals that the endangerment finding proposes to address all six GHGs listed under the Kyoto Protocol as a group (rather than individually) and not just the four transportation-related GHGs. As a practical matter, the finding would pave the way for federal regulation of motor vehicle emissions of GHGs but it could also have ramifications for the future regulation of GHGs from all stationary sources under the CAA, including power plants, oil refineries, cement plants and other factories.