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EPA rejects challenges to labelling carbon emissions a pollutant

United Kingdom
The Guardian

US climate sceptic lobbyists' attempts to stop greenhouse gas emissions from being labelled as a pollutant were last week rejected by The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Climate sceptics and oil and coal lobby groups, including the Peabody Energy Company, had challenged the EPA's ruling from December 2009 that climate change caused by GHG emissions was a threat to public health and the environment. Citing the University of East Anglia climategate scandal they said the science could not be trusted.

The EPA rejected the claims saying they were based on 'selectively edited, out-of-context data and manufactured controversy' and that the evidence of climate change was 'credible and growing stronger'.

'Defenders of the status quo will try to slow our efforts to get America running on clean energy. A better solution would be to join the vast majority of the American people who want to see more green jobs, more clean energy innovation and an end to the oil addiction that pollutes our planet and jeopardises our national security,' said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

Environmental groups welcomed the decision and said the EPA had powers under the Clean Air Act to push ahead with regulating greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as coal-fired power plants and industry.

Under The Clean Air Act the EPA is required to regulate air pollutants in order to protect public health and welfare.

The Centre for Biological Diversity said with the recent failure of congress to pass adequate legislation to reduce emissions the door was open for the Obama administration to use the Clean Air


'We have always believed that the Clean Air Act possesses sufficient tools, and is legally required to be used, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a safe level,' says executive director Kierán Suckling.

'We urge the Obama administration to make full and effective use of the law while Congress steps back and takes a year to see where it went wrong and makes another go at crafting climate legislation with enough teeth and scientifically established standards to actually stop runaway global warming,' he added.

Energy expert and architect of the Kyoto Protocol's carbon market Graciela Chichilnisky said the EPA already had a track record in successfully cutting emissions, having introduced limits on sulphur dioxide emissions through the Acid Rain Program.

'It's in their hands. With presidential power, the EPA can put any carbon limits they wish on stationary sources, in other words all emissions from industry.'

She said while nothing was likely to happen until after the mid-term elections in November, she expected the EPA to start limit carbon emissions in early 2011.

We must restart the fight against global warming

Scepticism is a healthy attitude to adopt to many, if not all, untested propositions. Sceptics throughout history, by applying their reasoned judgment and hard-headed critical faculties, have exposed lies, delusions and superstition.

Which is why scepticism is entirely the wrong word to apply to those who deny that emissions of carbon dioxide from human activity are leading to rises in average global temperatures, with potentially disastrous consequences. True sceptics respond to evidence.

Last week more evidence was published to support the established case for man-made global warming. Research, led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, drew on data from 11 possible indicators of climate and found that each one suggested warming consistent with expected effects of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. Snow cover in the northern hemisphere is shrinking, glaciers are retreating, sea levels are rising, oceans and the atmosphere are warming. As it was put by Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the Met Office, which participated in the study: "The fingerprints are clear".

The data in this study were not included in the 2007 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that has been the main target of attack by climate change deniers. The IPCC's authority was badly damaged by "climategate" – the leak of emails between scientists at the University of East Anglia, purporting to show a conspiracy to suppress inconvenient data.

In fact, as subsequent inquiries have shown, the emails proved at worst a cavalier and somewhat arrogant attitude on the part of scientists to critics of their work and a secretive, siege mentality in response to climate deniers. The actual scientific case for global warming was unscathed.

And yet, somehow the whole affair had a disproportionate effect in stifling public urgency over climate change. It did not help that the Copenhagen summit, shortly afterwards, billed in advance as the vital last chance opportunity for global action, resulted in an opaque compromise cobbled together at the eleventh hour mainly so heavyweight politicians in attendance could claim to have done some kind of deal.

That did little to advance the cause of public confidence or understanding. Since then, economic crisis and budget austerity have cleared pretty much all other considerations off political agendas in the developed world. Democrats in the US Senate have now abandoned President Obama's climate bill, a modest affair to introduce some cap-and-trade mechanism to reduce emissions. Federal climate regulation now looks dead for the foreseeable future.

It is both baffling and sadly predictable that it should be so hard to turn a matter of near certain scientific urgency into political action. It is also profoundly depressing that the chances of concerted global action to protect the environment seem to be receding.

It is a marker of how far the environment has slipped down the public agenda in this country that neither David Cameron nor Nick Clegg has said anything of note on the subject since forming a government, while not long ago they did fierce battle for the title of greenest party leader. Their claimed ambitions to take a lead on climate change really are a worthy object of scepticism.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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