For Immediate Release:

April 9, 2009


Dan Galpern, Western Environmental Law Center, 541-485-2471 ext 114,

Eugene, OR – The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) today sent an urgent letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, urging her to speed issuance of regulations aimed at restricting greenhouse pollution and to include black carbon, or soot, among climate forcing agents to be regulated.

The EPA is expected later this month to release an official greenhouse gas “endangerment” finding which opens the door for sharp restrictions under the Clean Air Act, as the Supreme Court required in Massachusetts vs. EPA (2007).  However, the EPA apparently intends to leave for a later time the actual regulations.

According to WELC attorney Dan Galpern, “The EPA may be set to miss a huge opportunity here.  Administrator Jackson’s forthcoming “endangerment” finding should trigger sharp restrictions on U.S.-derived GHG emissions, a long overdue development that is necessary, though insufficient, to stabilize the global climate system.”

Galpern also noted that strong immediate action is “a practical prerequisite for the President to assume real leadership in the international community to prevent unmanageable and calamitous disruption of the climate system.”  Negotiators from scores of counties are currently at work fashioning proposals for a binding international accord to be considered starting December 7, 2009 at the 15th Conference of Parties to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen.

WELC currently represents a number of environmental organizations that, alongside several state attorneys general, have demanded that EPA grant permission for states to regulate greenhouse pollution from cars and light trucks.  The EPA is currently reviewing its earlier decision to deny that waiver.  WELC also has formally petitioned EPA to restrict greenhouse pollutant emissions from non-road vehicles and engines.  EPA has yet to act on that petition.

WELC’s letter notes that, according to leaked EPA internal documents, the endangerment finding may be limited only to emissions of six GHGs recognized by the UNFCCC and will not cover emissions of black carbon.  In light of the major role of black carbon in disrupting earth’s climate system, and the relative quickness with which elimination of such emissions would cool the planet, WELC encourages inclusion of black carbon in the endangerment finding and deems its potential omission to be “a significant error.”

WELC urges that strong immediate action “is far more effective in fighting climate impacts than action years in the future,” particularly in light of “potentially disastrous feedbacks in the carbon cycle and climate system associated, inter alia, with melting permafrost, disintegrating ice sheets, forest die-back, and ocean acidification.”


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