No, cows will not have to report their emissions

While there’s growing doubt that the U.S. will have a law in place for lowering greenhouse gases by the end of the year, the country is on schedule to at least begin keeping track them by next year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

cow_face Don’t report me! (photo by Publicenergy)

The EPA finalized the rules for tracking GHGs this week, which means for the first time large emitters of carbon dioxide and other gases will have to collect and report that data.
“The American public, and industry itself, will finally gain critically important knowledge and with this information we can determine how best to reduce those emissions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement.
What’s covered? About 10,000 facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year, such as power plants (they’ve been reporting for more than a decade already), refineries, and motor vehicle and engine manufacturers. That would account for about 80 percent of U.S. emission sources.
What’s not covered? Churches, schools and livestock (“There’s no “cow tax” as some have falsely claimed,” says Environmental Defense.)
What gases are covered? Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated gases.
What is 25,000 tons of annual CO2 equivelant emissions equal to?

• 131 rail cars of coal

• 58,000 barrels of oil

• annual energy use of about 2,200 homes

• 4,600 passenger vehicles
How much will it cost to collect the data? Good question. Many of these facilities already keep track of other emissions data, which is often calculated based on how much fuel/feedstock goes through their system. So it’s just a simple calculation, i.e. one ton of coal burned equals ‘X’ tons of sulfur dioxide, etc. But it could be more complicated than that under the new rules. And some facilities will be newcomers to any sort of reporting requirements, like natural gas compressor stations, so creating a monitoring system will have some expense.
The first reports covering calendar year 2010 will be submitted to EPA in 2011. Vehicle and engine manufacturers outside of the light-duty sector will begin phasing in GHG reporting with model year 2011.