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Going Backwards

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0829-02.htm Going Backwards Bush Administration: Carbon Dioxide Not a Pollutant by Seth Borenstein WASHINGTON - Carbon
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2003
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      http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0829-02.htm
      Going Backwards
      Bush Administration: Carbon Dioxide Not a Pollutant
      by Seth Borenstein

      WASHINGTON - Carbon dioxide, the chief cause of global warming, cannot
      be regulated as a pollutant, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled
      Thursday.

      The decision reverses a 1998 Clinton administration position. It means
      that the Bush administration won't be able to use the Clean Air Act to
      reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

      Had the Bush administration decided that carbon dioxide is a pollutant
      and harmful, it could have required expensive new pollution controls on
      new cars and perhaps on power plants, which together are the main
      sources of so-called greenhouse gases.

      Environmentalists are expected to respond by suing the EPA to try to
      force it to regulate carbon dioxide. The real fight is likely to shift
      to Congress, where some lawmakers are proposing a new law giving the EPA
      clear authority to regulate emissions of gases linked to global warming.

      "Refusing to call greenhouse-gas emissions a pollutant is like refusing
      to say that smoking causes lung cancer," responded Melissa Carey, a
      climate policy specialist for Environmental Defense, a New York-based
      environmental group. "The Earth is round. Elvis is dead. Climate change
      is happening."

      EPA General Counsel Robert Fabricant took the opposite position in his
      12-page decision Thursday. "Because the [Clean Air Act] does not
      authorize regulation to address climate change," he wrote, "it follows
      that [carbon dioxide] and other [greenhouse gases], as such, are not air
      pollutants."

      Auto industry representatives lauded Fabricant's position.

      "Why would you regulate a pollutant that is an inert gas that is vital
      to plant photosynthesis and that people exhale when they breathe?" said
      Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers,
      a Washington-based industry lobby. "That's not a pollutant."

      The Clean Air Act says the EPA can regulate a substance if it comes from
      cars, contributes to air pollution and "may reasonably be anticipated to
      endanger public health or welfare." The same law broadly defines an air
      pollutant as "any air pollution agent or combination of such agents
      which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air."

      Sierra Club senior attorney David Bookbinder, whose suit prompted
      Fabricant's decision, said it was simple: "Anything that people put into
      the air can be an air pollutant. The question `Does it do something
      bad?' " is what matters.

      Copyright 2003 Knight Ridder
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