The net emission of greenhouse gases in the United States increased by 1.4 percent in 2007, according to a draft report released last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA found that U.S. emissions reached the equivalent of 7.125 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2007, up from 7.029 million metric tons in 2006. The EPA attributes the increase to a cooler winter, a warmer summer, a significant decrease in hydropower production because of drought, and an increased consumption of fossil fuels to produce electricity.
The 2007 U.S. emission levels were 17.1 percent higher than the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 1990. The Kyoto Protocol, which the United States never ratified, would have called for U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The EPA will accept comments on the draft report through early April.
The EPA is also proposing the first comprehensive U.S. system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The proposal only applies to the country's largest greenhouse gases emitters, which account for 85 percent to 90 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted in the United States.
That list includes companies that indirectly support greenhouse gas emissions, such as suppliers of fossil fuel and industrial chemicals and manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines. It also includes direct emitters of greenhouse gases with emissions equal to or greater than 25,000 metric tons per year, which is roughly equivalent to the emissions of 4,500 passenger vehicles. Most small businesses would fall below this threshold.
Tallying both categories yields about 13,000 U.S. facilities that would be required to report their greenhouse gas emissions under the new rule. The EPA will accept comments on the rule until early May. Visit the EPA's How You Can Get Involved page to submit comments.