An Environmental Protection Agency proposal that could lead to regulating the gases blamed for global warming will prove costly for factories, small businesses and other institutions, according to a White House document.
The nine-page memo, released Tuesday by Republican senators, is a compilation of opinions made by numerous federal agencies prior to the EPA determining in April that greenhouse gases pose dangers to public health and welfare.
That finding set in motion the regulation of six heat-trapping gases from cars and trucks, factories and other sources under the Clean Air Act for the first time.
The document, which is labeled "Deliberative-Attorney Client Privilege," says that if the EPA proceeds with the regulation of heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, factories, small businesses and institutions would be subject to costly regulation.
"Making the decision to regulate carbon dioxide ... for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities," the document reads.
Republicans and business groups immediately used the document to bolster their arguments that controlling greenhouse gases would harm the economy.
They also highlighted parts of the document that find fault with how the EPA arrived at its conclusion that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, since the gases by themselves do not pose any harm.
The memo says the EPA could have been "more balanced" in its analysis by also highlighting regions of the country that would benefit from global warming, such as Alaska, which would have warmer winters.
"It really appears to me that the decision was based more on political calculation than on scientific ones," said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who called the document "a smoking gun" during a hearing Tuesday on the Obama administration's proposed budget for EPA.
"The counsel in this administration repeatedly questions the lack of scientific support that you have for this proposed finding," he said.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson responded by saying that the finding by the EPA in April was required by law, stemming from a 2007 Supreme Court decision that said the EPA could classify greenhouse gases as pollutants. Jackson also said the agency's determination was preliminary and would not necessarily result in regulation.
The administration has said it prefers a new law that would limit greenhouse gases and put a price on climate-altering pollution.
"I have said over and over, as has the president, that we do understand that there are costs to the economy of addressing global warming emissions, and that the best way to address them is through a gradual move to a market-based program like cap and trade," Jackson said.