Administrator Lisa Jackson signing the final rule (photo: EPA)

Administrator Lisa Jackson signing the final rule (photo: EPA)

Starting on January 1st 2010, any US fossil fuel and industrial GHG suppliers, motor vehicle and engine manufacturers and other facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year, will be required to report their emissions data to the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA this will cover approximately 85 percent of the United States’ GHG emissions and apply to roughly 10,000 facilities.

These new rules lay the groundwork for regulating emissions, providing the basis of a monitoring system that should be in place by the time – if such a time arrives – that greenhouse gas emissions are to be regulated.

As Administrator Lisa Jackson, who signed the rules on Sep 22, stated – “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.”

 While opposed by many business, claiming that the reporting requirement is a first step toward burdensome and needless government regulation, others have welcomed this move.

Even the United States Chamber of Commerce seems to be on board with the new rules – “We have always supported transparency and do not oppose the reporting requirement,” said Bill Kovacs, senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs.

This is somewhat surprising as the Chamber of Commerce stance has so far been very much in opposition to any action, legislative or otherwise, on climate change. Throughout the past months the Chamber has sided themselves with climate change deniers by repeatedly attacking the EPA’s use of climate science, and it was the same Bill Kovacs who said in August that the EPA doesn’t “have the science to support the endangerment finding,” when the Chamber recently demanded a “Scopes Monkey Trial” for climate change science. A call they have later retracted after receiving too much heat.

The Chamber’s continual opposition to climate legislation has recently resulted in several utilities – including the major Californian utility Pacific Gas and Electric – withdrawing their membership (mirroring similar desertions in other industry groups). Others, such as Nike and Johnson & Johnson, have also expressed their dissatisfaction over the Chamber’s approach, saying it does not represent the full spectrum of members’ views. I wonder if the support, or at least non-opposition, to the EPA’s new reporting rules is an attempt to soften the Chamber of Commerce’s position before more companies quite it.

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