US chemical firms uncertain about new greenhouse gases rule

22 September 2009 23:08  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--A federal mandate for industrial reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will add valuable data to the climate change debate, but it may be burdensome to smaller producers, chemical industry officials said on Tuesday.

Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), said the decision announced earlier on Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement an emissions reporting requirement for greenhouse gases will give policymakers “a better understanding of the GHGs emitted by sources within the US”.

However, officials at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) said the new federal requirement may unnecessarily duplicate existing state reporting requirements and gives smaller manufacturers little time to prepare for the new programme.

The EPA announced on Tuesday that beginning 1 January 2010 any facility that emits 25,000 tonnes/year or more of carbon dioxide (CO2) or equivalents will have to report those emissions to EPA each year.

In addition to CO2, gases covered by the reporting requirement include methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride and hydrofluorinated ethers.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said the new rule - which was first proposed in March this year - will cover approximately 85% of the nation’s GHG emissions. 

The agency expects that approximately 10,000 plant sites or other facilities will meet the reporting criteria.

Reporting of greenhouse gases by those facilities will cover their 2010 emissions, with reports due at EPA by 31 March 2011.

ACC’s Dooley said his trade association - which represents most major US chemical producers - supports the EPA reporting requirement because the data generated will provide detailed information on GHG emissions by source.

He noted that member companies of the council have reported their GHG emissions for years under the ACC’s Responsible Care environmental stewardship programme. He said member firms have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 16% between 1990 and 2008.

Overall, the US chemicals industry’s greenhouse gas intensity - a measure of emissions per unit of output - has been reduced by nearly 40% since 1990, he added.

SOCMA vice president Bill Allmond said the new EPA reporting requirement will cover some member firms, although he noted that SOCMA’s specialty chemical and batch producers generally are not large generators of greenhouse gases.

He said, however, that the EPA reporting requirement does not sufficiently recognize or incorporate similar reporting requirements already imposed by various states.

In addition, he said, “We don’t believe the agency is giving industry sufficient time to prepare for reporting, which takes time and sizable investment in order to comply.”

“Smaller manufacturers should be given more leeway to implement their reporting systems,” Allmond added.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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