A cap-and-trade bill that forces commercial polluters to cut their carbon is still languishing in legislation purgatory, but at least we're getting some transparency. Jonathan Hiskes explains:
The new Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, which took effect last month, requires industrial facilities that release 25,000 metric tons of CO2 -equivalent a year to measure and report their emissions. (For comparison, that's roughly what 2,200 average U.S. households emit annually.) Initially the rule will affect about 1,200 sites-including factories that produce chemicals, cement, iron, and steel. A facility can stop reporting if it emits less than 25,000 tons for five years or less than 15,000 tons for three years.The emissions data collected will be made public starting in March 2011. Affected companies will find themselves in a searchable database-and maybe in the headlines too. The data could well become fodder for "the biggest polluters in Area X" local and national stories.Hiskes wonders whether this new transparency about emissions could draw the attention of the media, cause PR problems for big polluters, and thereby get them to reduce their emissions voluntarily.I wonder if there's any risk of a company just sacrificing some economies of scale and splitting its production between lots of 24,000-ton facilities.That said, it's a little shocking to know this reporting wasn't required already and good to know that it will be. I'll certainly do a blog post about the "the biggest polluters in Area X" when the data gets released.Photo (cc) from Flickr user obrien26382.