Climate change, from Minnesota to Copenhagen

This morning’s big Minnesota news is all about weather, not climate, with forecasts of the first blizzard of the season. But, as we all should know by now, weather is not the same as climate, and yesterday offered plenty of climate change news.

The Bush administration had refused to issue a finding that greenhouse gases were a public health danger, thus preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating emissions on that basis. Now, reports AP:

The EPA said that the scientific evidence surrounding climate change clearly shows that greenhouse gases “threaten the public health and welfare of the American people” and that the pollutants – mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels – should be regulated under the Clean Air Act. …
The way was opened for the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to cut climate-changing emissions by the Supreme Court in 2007, when the court declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants under the Act.

Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency said that regulation is the wrong way to reduce carbon emissions, recommending cap and trade incentives instead. According to MPR:

The MPCA’s air quality chief, David Thornton, was responding to Monday’s announcement by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that it is declaring greenhouse gases to be a threat to public health and welfare. That so-called endangerment finding means the agency can regulate sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Like the MPCA, business groups generally oppose regulation. With the threat of drawn-out lawsuits, the EPA and the Obama adminstration seem to favor cap-and-trade over regulation, but the EPA has begun drafting regulations, in case cap-and-trade does not pass.

As the Copenhagen climate conference continues, the New York Times reported on the latest information from the World Meteorological Organization showing continuing global warming:

The period from 2000 through 2009 has been “warmer than the 1990s, which were warmer than the 1980s and so on,” said Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the international weather agency, speaking at a news conference at the climate talks in Copenhagen.
The international assessment largely meshes with interim analysis by the National Climatic Data Center and NASA in the United States, both of which independently estimate global and regional temperature and other weather trends.

Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, Xcel Energy is offering rebates to customers who install some solar energy systems. MPR reports that it’s part of Xcel’s efforts to meet legal requirements to reduce energy sales by one and one-half percent per year.

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