Research & Commentary: Heartland Brief Argues that EPA’s Endangerment Finding Should Be Repealed

Published July 15, 2019

A new Heartland Institute Policy Brief from Senior Fellow Joseph Bast makes the case for repealing the Obama-era “Endangerment Finding,” an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation under the Clean Air Act. The Endangerment Finding declares that the current and projected concentrations of six greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Bast argues the Dangerment Finding is “flawed public policy,” especially in regard to carbon dioxide. He notes EPA violated its own rules of procedure in adopting the Endangerment Finding, which was used by the Obama administration to justify regulations intended to harm companies involved in the production of fossil fuels. It was also used in Obama’s self-described “war on coal.” The Endangerment Finding, if left in place, could jeopardize America’s energy security, destroy thousands of jobs, and negatively affect the health and welfare of millions of Americans.

“Regulations [such as the Endangerment Finding] that have a potential impact of more than $500 million in any one year on either the public or private sector; are novel, controversial, or precedent-setting; or have significant interagency interest must be accompanied by a scientific assessment that meets the [Office of Management and Budget’s] Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ definition of a “Highly Influential” action. The Endangerment Finding clearly should have required a highly influential scientific assessment, but it did not get one.”

Bast also notes EPA “failed to get approval from its own Science Advisory Board” for the Endangerment Finding, and “ignored and attempted to suppress research produced by its own staff, and failed to truthfully review comments submitted by experts.”

“The Endangerment Finding is flawed public policy,” Bast concludes, “rushed into place without going through the usual and necessary procedures to ensure a full hearing of scientific views and facts. An announcement by the EPA administrator that he or she is reopening the finding would be good news for science, consumers, and the environment.” That announcement should be made as soon as possible.

President Trump and members of his administration have consistently stated that regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act is unnecessary, ineffective, and economically destructive. So long as the Endangerment Finding remains in place, efforts to roll back unnecessary environmental regulations adopted in the name of fighting climate change and intended to punish conventional energy producers will likely fail. EPA should reopen and review the Endangerment Finding. Moreover, Congress should pass legislation banning the regulation and taxation of carbon dioxide as being against the public good.

The following documents provide more information about the Endangerment Finding and climate change.

Policy Brief: Should EPA Reverse Its Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases?
This Heartland Policy Brief by Joseph Bast makes the case for repealing the Obama-era “Endangerment Finding,” an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation under the Clean Air Act, forced into existence by the Supreme Court, which argues that that the current and projected concentrations of six greenhouse gases in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

The Social Benefits of Fossil Fuels
This Heartland Policy Brief by Joseph Bast and Peter Ferrara documents the many benefits from the historic and still ongoing use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are lifting billions of people out of poverty, reducing all the negative effects of poverty on human health, and vastly improving human well-being and safety by powering labor-saving and life-protecting technologies, such as air conditioning, modern medicine, and cars and trucks. They are dramatically increasing the quantity of food humans produce and improving the reliability of the food supply, directly benefiting human health. Further, fossil fuel emissions are possibly contributing to a “Greening of the Earth,” benefiting all the plants and wildlife on the planet.

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels
In this fifth volume of the Climate Change Reconsidered series, 117 scientists, economists, and other experts assess the costs and benefits of the use of fossil fuels by reviewing scientific and economic literature on organic chemistry, climate science, public health, economic history, human security, and theoretical studies based on integrated assessment models (IAMs) and cost-benefit analysis (CBA). (Also see the Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels “Summary for Policymakers”:

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science is an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on the current state of climate science, published in October 2013. It is the fourth in a series of scholarly reports produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, an international network of climate scientists sponsored by three nonprofit organizations: the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, and The Heartland Institute. (Also see the executive summary of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts
Released on April 9, 2014, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts is an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on the impacts of climate change on plants, terrestrial animals, aquatic life, and human well-being. (Also see the Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts “Summary for Policymakers”:


Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this subject, visit Environment & Climate News, The Heartland Institute’s website, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database.

The Heartland Institute can send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus; host an event in your state; or send you further information on a topic. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance! If you have any questions or comments, contact Heartland’s Government Relations department, at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.