The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its reporting system for large emitters of greenhouse gases on Tuesday. When the new program takes effect on January 1, 2010, it will apply to roughly 10,000 facilities, covering about 85% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Only the following facilities will be required to report their greenhouse gas emissions to the EPA annually: fossil fuel suppliers, industrial suppliers of greenhouse gases (such as bottled carbon dioxide), motor vehicle and engine manufacturers, and facilities that emit greenhouse gases equal to or greater than the equivalent of 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That final requirement is equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 4,600 passenger vehicles, so it excludes most businesses. The new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where greenhouse gases are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions. It will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, to compare them to similar facilities, and to identify cost-effective ways to reduce their emissions.
The EPA announcement came as President Obama addressed a Climate Change Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The president reiterated that "the threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it—boldly, swiftly, and together—we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe." President Obama noted that climate change will impact every nation, and although the world has been slow to address it, including the United States, that is changing with new, significant investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as new fuel economy standards. "We know that our planet's future depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce greenhouse gas pollution," said the president. "We know that if we put the right rules and incentives in place, we will unleash the creative power of our best scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to build a better world."