Q&A on EPA's GHG Reporting Rule

What is the GHG Reporting Rule?

As part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law on December 26, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was ordered to publish a rule requiring public reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large sources. The GHG Reporting Program database, published for the first time on January 11, 2012, and consisting of data reported under the rule, provides the first comprehensive nationwide GHG emissions data for the United States, although electric power plants have been reporting their carbon dioxide emissions for two decades under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

One model for the GHG Reporting rule is the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), established by the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, which, for the first time, required businesses to disclose releases of a wide range of toxic chemicals. When the TRI was first published in 1989, many businesses voluntarily began reducing their releases, clean technology developers used the data to identify potential customers, and policymakers used the data to develop and refine toxic chemical policy. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) expects similar activity as a result of the establishment of the GHG Reporting Program.

Who are the covered entities?

Forty-one sectors are included for possible reporting including: fossil fuel and industrial GHG suppliers, boilers, motor vehicle and engine manufacturers, and other industrial facilities. Annual reporting is required for facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year, except for sources in nineteen large source categories such as: refineries, cement manufactures, and chemical plants for which there is no minimum threshold. An estimated 85 to 90 percent of stationary source emissions from approximately 13,000 facilities are covered by the rule, while most small businesses would fall below the reporting threshold.

What is the status of regulation?

The first rulemaking following the Congressional mandate came on September 22, 2009, when EPA announced that it will require large emitters of GHGs to begin collecting data under a new reporting system. Data collection through online reporting began in January 2010 with the first annual reports submitted to EPA in 2011.

On January 11, 2012, EPA announced that the first year of data, 2010, is publicly available. EPA's online tool has data from 6,700 facilities from 29 source categories, searchable by state, location, company, or facility. Additional facilities will be included in future years.

A main feature of the site is an interactive map with facilities marked by location. Searching and sorting of facilities can be accomplished through 20 different reporting categories, by the amount of emissions of any of six GHGs. Each reporting facility has a profile with: location and address; NAICS code; GHG monitoring technology; GHG emissions amounts; emissions by source, fuel and process; and other information. Emissions data across sectors and locations is comparable in a variety of visual formats, like bar charts, pie charts, and data trees. Search results can be shared via printing, email, Facebook, Twitter and other ways.

 

Read more from EPA on the GHG Reporting Rule.

See C2ES President Eileen Claussen's statement on the release of reported data.