New York Times Editorial
The Environmental Protection Agency formally declared on Monday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases constitute a threat to human health and welfare. The move empowers the agency to regulate these emissions and gives President Obama an important tool if Congress fails to pass legislation to reduce global warming emissions.
Mr. Obama and the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa Jackson, have said repeatedly that they would much prefer a comprehensive legislative approach. But while the House has passed a broad climate change bill, the prospects in the Senate are uncertain. The threat of regulation gives Congress extra incentive to act; regulation would provide a strong backstop if it does not.
The E.P.A.’s declaration — known as an “endangerment finding” — is a necessary precondition under the Clean Air Act to regulatory action. Earlier this year, the administration proposed new rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. Those rules, which have been broadly accepted by industry and will be accompanied by big increases in fuel-economy standards, will now be finalized.