CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: EPA Rolls Out Federal GHG Reporting Rules

By Published On: September 25, 2009

All large greenhouse gas polluters must report their emissions starting next January to the federal government. The data gathering is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is expected to cover 10,000 power plants and other industrial facilities, representing about 85 percent of the nation’s global warming gases. The gathered data will be used to guide the development of emission reduction policies and programs. “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,” Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, stated September 22. This is the EPA’s first foray into greenhouse gas data collection. The mandate applies to power plants and other manufacturers that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide equivalent a year. “The key lesson from the European greenhouse gas emissions trading program is that we must get the data right,” stated Eileen Claussen, Pew Center on Global Climate Change president. EPA is charged with requiring vehicle and engine manufacturers outside of the light-duty sector to phase in greenhouse gas reporting with model year 2011. * * * * * The silver--or green--lining of the global economic recession is a dramatic drop in global warming gases, according to the International Energy Agency. “We have a new situation, with the changes in energy demand and the postponement of many energy investments,” IEA Economist Faith Birol told the Financial Times. Birol called the greenhouse gas drop “significant,” saying climate change policies have helped drive down emissions, referring to the agency’s report, World Energy Outlook. The report is expected to be released next month in Bangkok in anticipation of the December international Climate Change summit in Copenhagen. * * * * * A coalition of conservation groups protested a California Air Resources Board rule they claim would allow forest clear cutting to count as a greenhouse gas reduction measure. The groups take issue with a provision inserted last June in the Air Board’s proposed forest project protocols to curb deforestation and associated greenhouse gas impacts. “By offering a definition of clear cutting that omits critical regulations that limit clear cutting in California, the protocols succeed only in watering down California’s forest protections to the point that they are seriously deficient and unrecognizable,” conservationists warn in a September 22 letter to the Air Board. They add that the agency “should not be in the business of encouraging the clear cutting of California or any other state, particularly when such practices are likely to exacerbate climate change while simultaneously degrading forest ecosystems and fish and wildlife habitat.” The coalition includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club California, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Environmental Protection Information Center. * * * * * An advisory committee to the California Air Resources Board sees home area networks installed in conjunction with smart meters as a leading way to cut energy use and greenhouse gases. In a September 18 report, the Air Board’s Economic and Technology Advancement Advisory Committee said that the networks--which can be used to regulate the use of energy by various devices in buildings--could trim energy use by as much as 8 percent. The report said California utilities are likely to test the networks next year and the systems are likely to hit the market as early as 2011. * * * * * Some 100 world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in anticipation of a new international pact on global warming when negotiators meet in Copenhagen this December. “I hope world leaders will leave the summit ready to give their negotiating teams the green light and specific guidance needed to accelerate progress on the road to Copenhagen,” said the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The clock is ticking. I hope they will publicly commit to sealing a deal.” “The good news is that after too many years of inaction and denial, there’s finally widespread recognition of the urgency of the challenge before us,” President Barack Obama told the summit. “We know what needs to be done.” * * * * * In the state that made freeways famous, Californians drove less last year and used public transit more, cutting annual gasoline use by 544 million gallons and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million tons. The 5 percent decrease in auto use--which meant 15.6 million fewer miles driven on California highways--is chronicled in a report, Getting on Track: Record Transit Ridership Increases Energy Independence, by Environment California. The report, released September 22, said that state transit ridership was up 6 percent in 2008. The increase in transit use and reduction in driving occurred as the price of gasoline peaked at over $4 per gallon last year.

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