The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the cusp of finalizing details to add four major industry sources to its mandatory emissions reporting program [pdf].
Underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills, and magnesium production facilities are at the heart of the new details -- due to their substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) pollutant track record.
With the exception of magnesium production, all of the sources are known for releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane is roughly 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide for warming the atmosphere.
Magnesium production facilities are known for releasing Sulfur hexafluoride -- a greenhouse gas even more potent than methane that can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
About the Program:
Back in 2007, President Bush (yes, that President Bush) authorized funding for the EPA to create a mandatory emissions reporting initiative under the Clean Air Act.
A Regulatory Impact Analysis [pdf] in 2009 confirmed the initiative's importance and in 2010, the EPA has included the aforementioned four industry sources to its regulation.
What's the motive?
Well, in about as neutral language as governing bodies can muster, the EPA's official goal is to establish, "a better understanding of GHG emissions [which] will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them."
Because we all know there just isn't enough information out there about GHG's and their environmental impact.
The EPA is asking for public input as to whether or not emissions data should be made private or kept confidential. As it stands with the Clean Air Act, all data is currently public.
But according to the EPA, some non-emissions data, if made public, could have adverse affects on a business' competitiveness.
An example of such data would be certain information reported by fossil fuel and industrial gas suppliers related to production quantities and raw materials.
While it's good that industry is kept under reign -- even if only in a superficial sense for the time being -- one has to wonder at the language in EPA press releases.
At some point they're going to have to be proactive in reduction and not just information gathering.
Image credit: Bert K via Flickr
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