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Omnibus Appropriations Act Requires Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions In All Sectors Of U.S. Economy by June, 2010

On December 26, 2007, President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, H.R. 2764. This omnibus spending bill appropriated fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through September 2008) funds for almost all domestic spending programs, including EPA. 

Lodged deep inside the bill is one paragraph that should be of interest to American businesses.  It provides:

Of the funds provided in the Environmental Programs and Management account, not less than $3,500,000 shall be provided for activities to develop and publish a draft rule not later than nine months after the date of enactment of this Act [by September 26, 2008], and a final rule not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act [by June 26, 2009], to require mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions above appropriate thresholds in all sectors of the economy of the United States.

EPA currently maintains an inventory of U.S. greenhouse gases and sinks which can be viewed at http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/. This yearly inventory began in 1995 and is prepared under the requirements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This inventory is an estimate – to date, greenhouse gases are not regulated in the United States. The sector categories estimated in the annual greenhouse gas inventory may give an indication, however, of what sources or sectors are likely to be subject to EPA’s mandatory greenhouse gas inventory regulation required by the Appropriations Act. The top sectors include fossil fuel combustion (electric generation power plants), landfills, cement manufacture, iron and steel production, coal mining, natural gas systems, municipal solid waste combustion, and manure management, among others.

EPA’s ability to issue draft and final regulations on the schedule required by the Appropriations Act may be questioned. What is certain, however, is that greenhouse gas emission inventories are coming, either by federal requirement or at the insistence of state and local regulators. Climate change is a “hot” topic, and businesses and industries who do not know their “carbon footprint” are likely to be burned by that lack of information, either via regulations or because the data gap puts them at a competitive disadvantage.      

For more information about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, contact Andrew Brought or Baerbel Schiller in Spencer Fane’s Kansas City office or at abrought@spencerfane.com or bschiller@spencerfane.com.