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EPA to Assess Confidentiality of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced it is proposing actions under the greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program to address issues about “the public availability of certain data that some businesses may consider to be confidential.”

The agency said it would delay until as late as 2014 a measure to force companies to reveal the amount of fuel and solvents associated with greenhouse-gas emissions.

The total emissions for each facility will still be required to be reported to the EPA and will be released to the public.

But the agency said it would give businesses until Aug. 31, 2011, to disclose the factors used in calculating greenhouse-gas emissions. The agency also said it may give companies until as late as March 2014 to make such disclosures of “inputs”—such as coal—to emissions calculations. The action follows complaints from companies required to report emissions who bristled at sharing the confidential business information.

“Issues like this have been sensitive,” Jeff Holmstead, a former Bush administration EPA official who is now a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal. “In some industrial operations, the amount of fuel you use…people consider that kind of information competitive,” he said.

In July, EPA had made a proposed determination that information included in emissions equations are “emissions data” and cannot be protected as confidential business information under the Clean Air Act.  Under the proposed determination, EPA would have to make these data available to the public once they are submitted to the agency.

But resistance from the business community to the new reporting rules have caused the agency to reassess confidentiality claims.  EPA is now soliciting public comments about what specific information used in emissions calculations might be potentially confidential.

In 2009, the EPA finalized the greenhouse-gas regulations, which force an estimated 10,000 large emitters to publicly reveal the quantity of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The EPA has said the information will provide a better understanding of the sources of emissions and guide policies to reduce emissions.

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One thought on “EPA to Assess Confidentiality of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data

  1. It seems like a lot of this “confidential” information is companies not wanting to admit how heavy their environmental impacts are. It will be interesting to see what the upshot of the EPAs reassessment is. If pollution is proprietary we’re in trouble.

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