Posted by: greeningwashington | March 10, 2009

Rules to Reporting

The Environmental Protection Agency today announced its new proposed rule on the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturers of oil, chemicals, iron and steel, and automobiles, among other industries.


Once enacted the proposed rule would require some 13, 000 facilities to report annually to the EPA their greenhouse gas emissions. While some facilities already voluntarily report greenhouse emissions, this rule is “the first comprehensive national system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by major sources in the United States.” (EPA, 2009)


The following is an excerpt from the EPA press release:


The new reporting requirements would apply to suppliers of fossil fuel and industrial chemicals, manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines, as well as large direct emitters of greenhouse gases with emissions equal to or greater than a threshold of 25,000 metric tons per year. This threshold is roughly equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from just over 4,500 passenger vehicles. The vast majority of small businesses would not be required to report their emissions because their emissions fall well below the threshold.


The rule is promulgated under the Clean Air Act and is expected to account for 85 to 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The rule would cover most greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.


While the initial round of reporting won’t come until 2011, after monitoring 2010 emissions, the proposed rule was expected by lawmakers and industry executives.


Opponents to the plan argue against the approximately $160 billion in reporting costs associated with this new rule.


Mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions is the first step in a long process aimed at curbing greenhouse emissions. It is hard to regulate emissions if we are uncertain of the aggregate amount produced in the United States. While we already predict and estimate the amount of CO2 produced, this comprehensive reporting will allow for greater accountability from polluting industries.


Once greenhouse emissions are recorded, we can begin devising a comprehensive solution for reducing these numbers either through a progressive cap-and-trade system, carbon tax, or alternative energy sources.


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