As Copenhagen summit opens, US rules global warming a health threatDecember 7th, 2009 - 11:58 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Dec 7 (DPA) President Barack Obama’s environmental agency is expected to rule Monday that greenhouse gases represent a danger to public health and can be regulated under previous US laws.
The long-awaited “endangerment finding” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would come as negotiators from 192 countries gathered for the first day of a major climate change summit in Copenhagen.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was to make a “significant climate announcement” Monday afternoon, the agency said.
The ruling would effectively allow Obama to circumvent Congress and tackle greenhouse gases that cause global warming, even if lawmakers fail to approve climate legislation that is currently being debated.
Under Obama, the EPA argues it already has the authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions based on a 1990 clean air law passed by Congress, reversing the stance it held under former president George W Bush.
Obama has said he would prefer to wait for Congress to pass a new climate bill, which could come some time in the spring of 2010, but the EPA finding offers supporters of climate action a sort of insurance policy.
“This is one more key commitment President Obama can bring to the world to show that the US will do its part to fight global warming,” Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, a US environmental organisation, said of the EPA’s finding.
Obama will join more than 100 world leaders in Copenhagen next week. Governments are hoping to agree on a far-reaching new treaty that would curb greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide and slow global warming.
In the run-up to the Copenhagen summit, Obama proposed cutting US emissions “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005-levels by 2020.
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