The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to launch America's first comprehensive national greenhouse gas emissions reporting program.
The EPA announced today that it has finalized the requirements for its new program. That means America's biggest polluters will have to start publicly disclosing their annual emissions — data we need to create effective federal policy to fight climate change. Data collection will begin January 1, 2010, with disclosure required in the first quarter of 2011.
Mark MacLeod, an EDF expert on climate policy, praised the announcement:
The public has both a need and a right to know about the country’s biggest emitters. The transparency provided today will inform smart policy that targets the biggest sources of heat-trapping emissions.
Here are some key details about the new program:
- It will apply to about 10,000 large emitters. Those emitters are responsible for about 80-percent of all the heat-trapping gases emitted in the country.
- It sets a reporting threshold of 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. That's the equivalent of 131 rail cars of coal or 58,000 barrels of oil consumed, or the emissions from the annual energy use of about 2,200 homes.
- Businesses that emit less than 25,000 tons of emission per year are NOT covered. That means the rule does NOT apply to churches or schools, as some have falsely claimed. The rule also does NOT create the totally spurious "cow tax."
- The rule will cover the most dangerous global warming pollutants including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated gases.
The new EPA program is based on valuable efforts that are already underway. Forty-one states are currently participating in The Climate Registry. And since 1995, fossil-fuel fired power plants over 25 megawatts in size have been subject to mandatory reporting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. These two efforts have started providing an important database of emissions. Now the EPA program will allow us to take the next necessary step.