EPA and climate change

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health, a step that many said puts the agency in the driver’s seat on all questions environmental.

While that might be so — and Congress might offer a different perspective —  it certainly places the agency in the middle of competing interests.

Environmental organizations want the agency to take its newly claimed authority to clamp down on natural gas drilling and transportation to prevent the escape of greenhouse and other gases into the atmosphere.

Industry organizations fear that is precisely what will occur and want the agency to resist the urge to regulate where it’s unnecessary.

The air program director of the EPA’s Denver office, which encompasses Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, struck an encouraging early note, telling Daily Sentinel reporter Dennis Webb that the agency remains unsure of its reach, but that it is “trying to take a common-sense approach to dealing with these emissions that’s not going to burden … our businesses unduly.”

That could be a tall order in the current atmosphere, pun not intended, surrounding the debate around climate change, man’s contributions to it and the kinds of measures that should be taken.

The questions that arise in the wake of the agency’s finding affect not just Colorado, but several states with natural gas industries.

Natural gas is in the center of the debate over global warming with some people, notably former Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth, now president of the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund, advocating for an expanded role of natural gas as a way of combating global warming.

Navigating a path that preserves the industry and protects the environment won’t be easy.

The EPA needs to keep both goals equally in mind.


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