WASHINGTON, DC, March 12, 2009 (ENS) - The first mandatory national system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by major sources in the United States has been proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"Our efforts to confront climate change must be guided by the best possible information," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, announcing the proposal on Tuesday. "Through this new reporting, we will have comprehensive and accurate data about the production of greenhouse gases."
Greenhouse gases trap heat from the Sun and warm the planet's surface. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 87 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are related to energy consumption. Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have grown by about one percent per year. In 2005, about 21 percent of the world's total energy-related carbon dioxide was emitted by the United States.
Under the proposed rule, the federal government could collect emissions data to inform future policy decisions.
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.
Most small businesses would not be required to report their emissions because their emissions fall below the threshold.
Some 13,000 facilities, accounting for about 85 percent to 90 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the United States, would be covered under the proposal.
"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," Jackson said.
The direct emission sources covered under the reporting requirement would include energy intensive sectors such as cement production, iron and steel production, and electricity generation.
The first annual report would be submitted to EPA in 2011 for the calendar year 2010, except for vehicle and engine manufacturers, which would begin reporting for model year 2011.
Environmentalists say the EPA is now moving in the right direction to address the climate crisis after years of delay under the Bush administration.
"The EPA is laying the foundation for strong action on global warming this year. Accurate monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gases will provide the vital framework for an effective program to cap and reduce America's global warming pollution," said David Doniger, policy director for the climate center for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"The Obama administration understands that we need strong leadership by the White House and Congress to meet our nation's challenges – moving to a clean energy future, jumpstarting our economic recovery, and cutting global warming pollution," Doniger said.
EPA estimates that the expected cost to comply with the reporting requirements to the private sector would be $160 million for the first year. In subsequent years, the annualized costs for the private sector would be $127 million.
In developing the reporting requirements, EPA considered the substantial amount of work already completed and underway in many states, regions and voluntary programs
EPA is developing this rule under the authority of the Clean Air Act. The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Two public hearings will be held during the comment period.
The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFE).
These are the same gases governed by the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty which limits the emissions of these gases by industrialized nations. The United States is not a party to the protocol, which expires in 2012.
At the annual United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December, governments are expected to finalize a legally binding agreement that will further limit emissions of these gases after 2012.
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Tags: epa, require greenhouse gas, large emitters, kyoto protocol, un, climate, greenhouse gases, global warming, clean air act, obama administration, smitten_kitten
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
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