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EPA Proposes National Reporting of GHG Emissions

powerplant2In a far-reaching move, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that all major sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions be reported into a national database.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the proposal March 10.

“Through this new reporting, we will have comprehensive and accurate data about the production of greenhouse gases,” Jackson said in a press release. “This is a critical step toward helping us better protect our health and environment – all without placing an onerous burden on our nation’s small businesses.”

Across the United States, about 13,000 facilities would be covered. Those facilities account for as much as 90 percent of greenhouse gases emitted nationwide, according to the release.

First-year compliance would cost the private sector $160 million, EPA estimates, with subsequent years costing $127 million.

The requirements would apply to:

  • fossil fuel and industrial chemicals suppliers
  • motor vehicle and engine manufacturers
  • direct emitters of greenhouse gases who emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year. Such sources of emissions might include cement production, iron and steel production and electricity generation

Because of the 25,000-metric ton threshold, EPA says most small businesses would be exempt from reporting.

While at this point the EPA is seeking only to monitor emissions from individual operations, at least one analyst does not see a good reason to cap emissions downstream.

“If you want to set up greenhouse gas limits, the efficient way is to do an upstream requirement. If you have excellent data at that level, then you don’t need to know what every facility has emitted individually,” said Anne E. Smith, vice president of the Climate and Sustainability group at CRA International, Washington, D.C.

“It’s costly to monitor downstream emissions,” she said. “It’s also duplicitous if you’re monitoring the emissions associated with fuel production upstream, which are measured in terms of volume sold.”

“Monitoring and reporting of emissions is a critical step in laying the foundation for successful climate policy in the United States. In order to be effective, climate policies require accurate and reliable emissions data,” said Pankaj Bhatia, director of the GHG Protocol Initiative at the World Resources Institute, in a statement.

The first annual report on greenhouse gas emissions, covering calendar year 2010, would be submitted to EPA in 2011.  Vehicle and engine manufacturers, however, would begin reporting for model year 2011.

The proposed rule would fall under the Clean Air Act. After the proposal hits the Federal Register, it will have a 60-day public comment period, and there will be two public hearings.

Here is the complete text of the proposed rule.

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