The federal Environmental Protection Agency has declared six greenhouse gases to be a danger to human health. The EPA says that means they should be regulated. The pronouncement could have consequences in Congress.
The EPA's policy took the form of what's called an "endangerment finding." Specifically, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – chemicals produced in refineries and cars, among other places – now officially harm human health.
The timing of the declaration is no accident: for the next two weeks, world leaders will consider global warming policy at a United Nations conference in Copenhagen.
President Obama's decision to show up in Denmark has raised hopes for a treaty. It’s also raised pressure the United States to take domestic action. That's where Congress comes in. Supporters of wide-ranging climate legislation known as Waxman-Markey are applauding the EPA's new position.
California Democratic senator Barbara Boxer says Congress has a duty to take action. She adds that the announcement add heft to Obama's appearance in Copenhagen next week.