In what could be one of the most significant regulatory changes since its founding, the EPA has moved toward imposing limits on greenhouse gases with a finding that such gases now present a “serious problem . . . for future generations.” The move could have widespread environmental benefits apart from climate change in forcing more fuel efficient cars and greater limitations on power plants and industrial sources.
The EPA finding of endangerment prepares allows for the EPA to act if Congress fails to do so. The finding will unite powerful industry lobby groups for utilities, car manufacturers and others in seeking to delay or stop the change. More worrisome is the fact that such regulations take a ridiculously long time — even without such concerting opposition. That would mean that the new Administration could easily stop the process. The Bush Administration previously opposed moved to use the Clean Air At to address climate change, but the Supreme Court found that such regulations is allowed — requiring, however, the “endangerment finding” issued by the EPA.
Here is the release from the EPA:
WASHINGTON – On January 1, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will, for the first time, require large emitters of heat-trapping emissions to begin collecting greenhouse gas (GHG) data under a new reporting system. This new program will cover approximately 85 percent of the nation’s GHG emissions and apply to roughly 10,000 facilities.
“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.”
EPA’s new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions. The data will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, compare them to similar facilities, and provide assistance in identifying cost effective ways to reduce emissions in the future. This comprehensive, nationwide emissions data will help in the fight against climate change.
Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, are produced by burning fossil fuels and through industrial and biological processes. Fossil fuel and industrial GHG suppliers, motor vehicle and engine manufacturers, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year will be required to report GHG emissions data to EPA annually. This threshold is equivalent to about the annual GHG emissions from 4,600 passenger vehicles.
The first annual reports for the largest emitting facilities, covering calendar year 2010, will be submitted to EPA in 2011. Vehicle and engine manufacturers outside of the light-duty sector will begin phasing in GHG reporting with model year 2011. Some source categories included in the proposed rule are still under review.
More information on the new reporting system and reporting requirements: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgrulemaking.html
It is a great holiday gift for environmentalists and public health advocates. It is a particularly wonderful gift for our children who will bear the costs of these pollutants to a greater degree than ourselves.