The EPA’s conclusion that greenhouse gases harm or en-danger public health and welfare is based primarily on the role these gasesplay in climate change. The analysis states that the impacts include, but arenot limited to, increased drought that will impact agricultural productivity;more intense rainfall, leading to a greater flood hazard; and increasedfrequency of heat waves that affect human health. The EPA’s proposal pro- gramto regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant has been upheld by courtdecisions

The next step in adding carbon dioxide and other green-house gasses, such as methane, to the list of pollutants regulated by the EPAwas a series of public hearings and feedback from a variety of people andagencies. Some people oppose listing carbon dioxide as an air pollutantbecause, first of all, it is a nutrient and stimulates plant growth; and,second, it does not

directly affect human health in most cases (the exceptionbeing carbon dioxide emitted by volcanic eruption and other volcanic activity,which can be extremely toxic).

The EPA in late September of 2013 announced the initialsteps to reduce carbon pollution under President Obama’s Cli- mate Action Plan.The objective will be standards for new coal burning power plants.Conversations are starting to develop standards for existing power plants.

Critical Thinking Questions

After going over the information concerning global climatechange and the role of carbon dioxide in causing change, con- sider thefollowing questions: 1. Do you think carbon dioxide, along with othergreenhouse

gases, should be controlled under the Clean Air Act? Why?Why not?

2. Assuming carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are tobe controlled under the Clean Air Act, what sorts of pro- grams might be usedfor such control? For example, the con- trol of sulfur dioxide was primarilythrough a cap-and-trade program where the total amount of emissions were set,and companies bought and sold shares of allowed pollution up to the cap.

3. If the United States can curtail emissions of carbondiox- ide under the Clean Air Act, how effective will this be in, say, reducingthe global concentration of carbon dioxide to about 350 parts per million givenwhat other countries are likely to do in the future with respect to emissionsand given that the concentration today is about 390 parts per million?

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