The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has reached a proposed determination regarding whether or not greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions endanger public health, public welfare, or both. Not yet published, EPA’s proposed “endangerment finding” was submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) on Friday, March 20th, and is currently undergoing an inter-agency review led by the OMB.

As we reported on March 13, 2009 (see March 13, 2009 edition of the WER), according to a leaked EPA document, EPA expects to publish its proposed endangerment finding by April 16, 2009, followed by a sixty-day comment period and two public hearings. Friday’s submission of EPA’s proposed finding to the White House for review tracks this schedule and may even lead to a release date in advance of April 16.

Although the content of EPA’s proposed endangerment finding has not been confirmed, the Agency is expected to conclude that GHG emissions do pose a threat to both public health and public welfare. Significantly, EPA does not appear poised at this time to propose actual GHG reduction regulations. Nevertheless, once EPA’s affirmative endangerment finding proceeds through the public comment period and is finalized by the Agency, likely by the end of this year, EPA will be legally required to regulate GHG emissions under the federal Clean Air Act. Such regulation would proceed at the Agency level through a notice and comment rulemaking.