As mentioned in a prior post, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently working on a draft rule to establish a federal, nationwide, and economy-wide greenhouse gas emission rule. EPA has announced a schedule for the process and the existing protocols it is considering. The Agency appears determined to move forward with issuing a draft rule by September of this year.
The schedule is as follows:
January 2008 to September 2008: Establish EPA Work group (completed);
Develop draft rule and supporting analysis;
Conduct outreach; and
Conduct inter and intra-Agency review of the draft rule.
September 2008: Propose and publish draft rule.
October 2008 to June 2009: Conduct public comment period and hearings;
Develop final rule and supporting analysis;
Conduct inter and intra-Agency review of the final rule.
June 2009: Publish final rule.
One of the critical issues is establishing the protocols that must be used for different types of sources and industry sectors. The EPA is looking to regulate all six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbons, perflourocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The Agency is looking at regulating both upstream sources--fossil fuel and chemical producers and importers, and downstream sources--direct emitters--large industrial emitters.
The threshold amount of emissions that will bring a facility or source into the reporting regime must be determined by EPA. The Agency has stated that it is reviewing thresholds of existing mandatory and voluntary reporting programs to determine the appropriate trigger or threshold above which reporting will be required. EPA has further said, "The rule is not expected to affect smaller operations where emissions are difficult to measure or where there are a large number of small sources."
The frequency of reporting must also be addressed. EPA is reviewing the frequency of reporting under other programs to determine the frequency (annual or quarterly) of greenhouse gas emission reporting under the developing rule.
Finally, the protocols for estimating emissions from various sources must be adopted by the Agency. EPA has the discretion to use existing methodologies under Section 821 of the Clean Air Act for electric generating facilities. Other sources that are being considered include: federal programs--such as Title IV ; state programs--such as the Climate Registry, California's system, and RGGI; corporate programs--such as the World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainable Development; industry programs--such as the American Petroleum Institute, the CSI protocol (cement), and the International Aluminum Institute.
Companies who have not already begun to take measure of their greenhouse gas emissions can refer to the above-mentioned protocols and begin to evaluate the level of emissions from relevant facilities and sources at those facilities. This will allow future planning as to the potential for their operations to be required to make federal reports once the reporting rule is issued.