EPA asks for greenhouse gas reports; trucks not included

| 3/11/2009

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a federal regulation that would require thousands of U.S. businesses to report their greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed rule would apply to about 13,000 U.S. facilities, but apparently won’t apply to truck drivers or small trucking companies – at least not yet.

David Rich of the World Research Institute, which developed the EPA’s plan, said truckers wouldn’t be covered under the rule as it is currently proposed.

“Individual truckers don’t need to worry,” Rich said. “In the transportation sector, the people reporting would be fuel producers and vehicle engine manufacturers – not the truck owners themselves.”

If the rule were changed, Rich said major motor carriers could eventually be included.

“In the current proposal, that’s not the case; down the line that’s a possibility.”

A statement from the EPA appeared to support Rich’s exclusion of trucks, with the agency’s interest in the transportation sector being higher up the emissions chain with fuel producers and engine manufacturers.

“The vast majority of small businesses would not be required to report their emissions because their emissions fall well below the threshold,” the EPA stated.

Trucking businesses shouldn’t ignore greenhouse gas regulations, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist.

“Make no mistake – truckers will eventually be a target of national greenhouse gas regulations,” Rajkovacz said. “This is being designed to tax your emissions, and they won’t ignore trucks for long.”

Rich, who led the proposal’s technical development, said the emissions data could be the first step toward cap-and-trade or other greenhouse gas emissions requirements in the future.

“This is a step toward regulating greenhouse gases in the U.S.,” Rich told Land Line. “That certainly would include a cap-and-trade program. Congress and the administration now are pushing for a cap-and-trade program. This is definitely a step in that direction, but it also could be used for any other regulation. It doesn’t have to be cap-and-trade.”

Simply put, a generic cap-and-trade system allows the government to set limits on the amount of pollution a company can emit. Companies must have permits or credits from the government for the amount of pollution they are allowed to emit. It’s easier for some companies to meet or beat their pollution limit, so the cap-and-trade system allows them to sell their extra permits or credits to companies that pollute more than their allotted amount.

Cap-and-trade may not be far off.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he wants to see a cap-and-trade proposal being debated in Congress by Memorial Day.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, also has said she will submit her own cap-and-trade legislation.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the emissions data gathering is critical as the agency pursues better protection of our health and environment without “placing an onerous burden on our nation’s small businesses.”

“Our efforts to confront climate change must be guided by the best possible information,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Through this new reporting, we will have comprehensive and accurate data about the production of greenhouse gases. This is a critical step toward helping us better protect our health and environment – all without placing an onerous burden on our nation’s small businesses.”

Under the rule, the first annual report would be submitted to EPA in 2011 for the calendar year 2010, except for vehicle and engine manufacturers, who would begin reporting for model year 2011.

EPA estimates the proposed rule would cost the private sector $160 million for the first year, but would drop to $127 million annually in subsequent years.

EPA is developing the rule under the authority of the Clean Air Act. The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days after the publication in the Federal Register. Two public hearings will be held during the comment period.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer