Leading Scientists Urge EPA to Find that Global Warming Pollution Endangers Human Health and Welfare

EPA Preparing to Announce Response to Supreme Court

November 28, 2007
Tony Kreindler, 202-210-5791, tkreindler@environmentaldefense.org
John Balbus, 301-908-8186, jbalbus@environmentaldefense.org
Vickie Patton, 720-837-6239, vpatton@environmentaldefense.org

(Washington, DC – November 28, 2007) Citing extensive scientific evidence that climate change constitutes a severe threat to human health and welfare, 23 leading scientists and physicians submitted a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson asking him to follow science in regulating global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. EPA is preparing to announce its proposed response to the April 2nd Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, a decision rejecting EPA’s claim that it lacked authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  
As a threshold to potential greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles and fuels, EPA is preparing to determine whether global warming pollution “endangers” public health and welfare.   This “endangerment” finding is the first action to be taken by the EPA in response to the Supreme Court’s remand in which the high Court sharply instructed EPA that the Agency does not have “a roving license to ignore the statutory text.”   The scientists are concerned that EPA will give short shrift to the body of science documenting the considerable health impacts of global warming.  
“The nation’s leading scientists are asking EPA to carry out its fundamental responsibility to protect human health from the severe threat of global warming pollution,” stated Dr. John Balbus, Chief Health Scientist for Environmental Defense and one of the letter’s signers. “Global warming means more death and disease from heat waves, rising air pollution, and infections, and it is EPA’s duty to take immediate protective action.”
The November 27th letter cites the conclusions of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, which state that increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are projected to raise global temperatures by 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Centigrade, with concomitant changes in ice cover and sea level rise. Human health consequences of these changes in climate are projected by the IPCC to include more frequent and severe harmful heat waves, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases from higher levels of ozone air pollution and pollens, increases in infectious diseases in many regions, and worsened food insecurity among vulnerable populations.  The letter concludes, “It is clear to the scientific community that ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere constitute a severe threat to human health and welfare both within the United States and for other nations.”
The letter is available at: www.environmentaldefense.org/epaletter
Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 400,000 members.  Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems.  www.environmentaldefense.org