EPA administrator says GHG findings will lead to clean energy future

By Kris Bevill | April 14, 2009
Web exclusive posted April 17, 2009, at 3:11 p.m. CST

After conducting extensive scientific review, the U.S. EPA has found that concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the Earth's atmosphere are at unprecedented levels and that human emissions are directly to blame for the increase. The agency also concluded that the levels of GHG are likely the cause of climate change and contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health.
Six GHG - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride - were analyzed by scientists worldwide for the review.

"This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said. "This pollution problem has a solutionone that will create millions of green jobs and end our country's dependence on foreign oil."

EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said the agency's findings and possible carbon cap-and-trade legislation are not related, however Jackson has repeatedly indicated a preference for comprehensive legislation to address GHG reduction and create a framework for an economy that supports clean energy. The EPA's findings appear to support the need for some type of GHG regulation.

Some ethanol producers have been preparing for a cap-and-trade program in advance of possible future legislation. Producers who have taken steps to decrease their emissions, by installing alternative energy sources such as combined heat and power units for example, are able to trade their "credits" on voluntary carbon markets. If a cap- and-trade system were to be made law, it is possible that traditional ethanol plants would be considered emitters of GHG and would be required to either take steps to reduce emissions or pay penalties.

The EPA is proposing it be allowed to take steps to reduce GHG under the authority granted in the Clean Air Act. The issue is open for public comment as part of the agency's process and all comments must be reviewed before the agency can issue a final ruling.