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EPA Releases Bush Administration’s Endangerment Document

emissions5The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a long-secret document on global warming that shows the George W. Bush administration had concluded in December 2007 that greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles were endangering public welfare and needed to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, reports the New York Times.

Bush’s top environmental adviser, Jim Connaughton, now a senior vice president for Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Inc., told Reuters that the Bush administration had planned to use EPA regulations to regulate climate change, but changed course and instead opted to work on legislation with Congress.

The EPA analysis, Deliberative, Do Not Distribute (PDF), covered climate-changing effects that heat-trapping gases have on air pollution, precipitation patterns, sea-level rise, glacial melting and wildlife patterns, reports Reuters. The document was prepared as part of the Bush administration’s response to the Supreme Court’s April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, according to the news agency.

In Massachusetts v. EPA, the court found that the EPA had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and that it could not refuse to use that authority because of policy preferences, reports SolveClimate.com. The EPA wrote the draft endangerment finding in 2007, but the White House refused to open the document, according to SolveClimate.com.

The Obama administration EPA’s proposed endangerment finding differs in two significant ways from the Bush-era report. Under the Obama administration greenhouse gas emission threats are linked to both public health and welfare, and the six primary greenhouse gases are grouped together for possible regulation, while the Bush approach recommended taking comment on regulating either all six gases or each individual gas, reports Reuters.

Environmental groups and scientists have been urging Congress to keep the EPA’s regulatory ability on greenhouse gases in any climate bill that passes, and so far, the Senate’s version makes no mention of restricting the EPA, reports SolveClimate.com.

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