U.S. EPA took the first big step toward regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases this week when it proposed a national system in which major sources would be required to report their greenhouse gas emissions. Knowing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the major sources will aid the federal government in developing climate change regulations, particularly the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under a cap and trade program. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson explained, “Through this new reporting, we will have comprehensive and accurate data about the production of greenhouse gases. This is a critical step toward helping us better protect our health and environment.”
According to U.S. EPA, approximately 13,000 facilities, accounting for about 85 percent to 90 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the United States, would be covered under the proposed rule. The reporting requirements would apply to the following facilities:
- Suppliers of fossil fuels and industrial chemicals;
- Manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines; and
- Large direct emitters of greenhouse gases with emissions equal to or greater than a threshold of 25,000 metric tons per year.
The first annual report would be submitted to U.S. EPA in 2011 for greenhouse gases emitted during calendar year 2010, except for vehicle and engine manufacturers, which would begin reporting for model year 2011. Facilities self-certify their emissions data to U.S. EPA, who would then verify the emissions. Facilities must maintain all records that may be required by U.S. EPA to verify the emissions data. Failure to comply with the rule would be a violation of the Clean Air Act.
If you believe that your facility is subject to the national reporting system or if you are not certain whether your facility emits more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year, you should begin evaluating your facility’s greenhouse gas emissions now before the proposed start date of January 1, 2010. If you implement a plan for measuring and recording greenhouse gas emissions now, you will have the remainder of 2009 to perfect the process before it becomes mandatory and subject to U.S. EPA enforcement.
Once the proposed rule is published in the federal registrar, parties will have only 60 days to submit comments. U.S. EPA will have to finalize the rule by the end of this year if it will be requiring companies to start calculating and recording their greenhouse gas emissions next year. We can assist you in understanding the requirements of the proposed rule and submitting comments to U.S. EPA.