The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 7 declared that carbon can be blamed for global warming and is a public health threat thus paving the way to regulate the emissions for the first time.
Administrator Lisa Jackson said that the agency was "now authorized and obligated to make reasonable efforts" to cut greenhouse gas emissions. "These long-overdue findings cement 2009's place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution," she said.
The announcement came on the first day of a major climate conference in Copenhagen that aims to forge a new global deal on fighting global warming.
Jackson hit back at conservative critics who question the science behind climate change, saying there was "overwhelming evidence" pointing to global warming.
The agency said it was classifying six greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide along with methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride -- as public health threats under the U.S. Clean Air Act.
Jackson said that the agency was not immediately imposing new regulations but that the finding would allow it to finalize emissions standards for light-duty vehicles.
President Barack Obama's administration took the step as the U.S. Congress debates the first-ever system to restrict carbon emissions, with most lawmakers of the rival Republican Party fighting the legislation.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009