The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final ruling for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases (GHG) from large emissions sources in U.S. on September 22, 2009. The EPA calls the ruling a “comprehensive, nationwide emissions data.” Facilities that emit 25,000 metrics tons or more of carbon dioxide a year will be required to report their emissions with the first report due on March 10, 2009, and published a month later on the Federal Register. Facilities and suppliers will begin collecting data on January 1, 2010.
A 2008 congressional mandate in the Consolidated Appropriations Act directed the EPA to issue regulations “mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions above appropriate thresholds in all sectors of the economy.” The mandate relies on the authority of the Clean Air Act.
An estimated 85 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions from approximately 10,000 facilities are affected by the final ruling. The majority of small businesses will not be affected as they would fall below the 25,000 metric ton threshold. Reports will be submitted annually, and the EPA will verify the reports and will not require third-party verification. The EPA estimates the average cost of reporting for private sector will be $115 million in the first year, and $72 million a year after.
The only emissions source in agriculture sector covered by the rule is manure management systems at livestock operations with GHG emissions that meet the threshold. The EPA estimates that over 100 qualify. Vehicle and engine manufacturers do not have to report until 2011.
“The public has both a need and a right to know about the country’s biggest emitters,” said Mark MacLeod, director of special projects at Environmental Defense Fund. “The transparency provided today will inform smart policy that targets the biggest sources of heat-trapping emissions.”
“This is a major step forward in our effort to address the greenhouse gases polluting our skies,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “For the first time, we begin collecting data from the largest facilities in this country, ones that account for approximately 85 percent of the total U.S. emissions. The American public, and industry itself, will finally gain critically important knowledge and with this information we can determine how best to reduce those emissions.”
California’s regulations are stricter
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the final regulations in December 2008 for the mandatory monitoring and reporting of state GHG emissions. The state regulations require GHG emissions be monitored and reported on annually from sources that “contribute the most to statewide emissions,” and account for all energy used in California. The regulations also require an almost 30 percent reduction in GHG emissions. California’s regulations require third-party verification of the reported data by emitters beginning in 2010.
National Association of Manufacturers Vice President for Energy and Resources Policy Keith McCoy said that manufacturers support a GHG registry, but “the EPA’s decision not to preempt existing state programs will duplicate paperwork and increase costs for many manufacturers.”
According to the Environmental Leader, the final ruling is “100 times less strict than the current rule under the Clean Air Act, which calls for facilities emitting more than 250 tons annually of a regulated pollutant to install the “best available” control technologies.”