EPA May Allow Industry to Estimate Rather than Monitor Greenhouse Gases

Date: September 11, 2009

Source: News Room

The U.S. EPA appears likely to grant an industry request to allow facilities to estimate, rather than monitor, their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the early years of the federal agency's GHG-reporting program. However, activists worry about the effectiveness of such a measure and point to a new study suggesting that estimation methods can result in under-reporting of emissions by as much as 70%. Although the reporting data is intended to inform development of any GHG regulations, agency officials appear to agree with an industry request not to require facilities to monitor their emissions until EPA has a clearer idea on the design of its regulatory program. However, inaccuracies in projections could be costly for regulated facilities since each ton of emissions from a baseline quantify how many allowances a polluter needs to purchase or to get credit for reductions.

Given these concerns about accuracy, one EPA official said the agency will soon release new methods for estimating emissions. Tracking emissions is a key part of a new accountability effort at EPA, which will begin to measure the effectiveness of various regulations and technologies aimed at reducing emissions. Congress required EPA in fiscal year 2008 spending legislation to issue a final mandatory GHG reporting rule by June 26. While that deadline has passed, lawmakers who wrote the requirement have urged EPA to issue a rule in time to collect a complete emissions profile for 2010. The long-delayed final rule is currently undergoing White House review.

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