Muckraker: Grist on Politics

While EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and the rest of the Bush administration have decided to run out the clock on regulating greenhouse-gas emissions, EPA scientists have released their own document [PDF] detailing the health risks posed by a warming planet, including wildfires, smog, disease, and an increased number of heat-related deaths.

The 149-page endangerment analysis outlines the risks that global warming poses to human health, as well as air quality, sea levels, food production, water resources, forests, ecosystems, and wildlife. “Risk increases with increases in both the rate and magnitude of climate change,” the document states. It supports the notion that greenhouse-gas emissions should be regulated under the Clean Air Act in order to protect human health.

The EPA’s scientists also note that warming increases the likelihood of catastrophic weather events: “Climate warming may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events.”

According to various reports, Bush administration officials refused to release this document as part of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on regulating greenhouse-gas emissions that they unveiled on Friday.

Johnson maintains that the Clean Air Act is “ill-suited for the task of regulating greenhouse gases,” and that before action can be taken to curb emissions, Congress has to pass new, more-specific legislation. Rather than acting to set limits under the act in the interest of protecting human health, as the Supreme Court directed the administration to do last year, Johnson has asked for 120 additional days of public comment, essentially stalling action until after George Bush leaves office.