U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report Released; DOE Revises Public Registry to Track Emissions

Overall, greenhouse gas emissions during 2004 increased by 1.7 percent from the previous year, according to EPA's latest report on greenhouse gas emissions, prepared for the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and announced on April 17.

In a separate statement made the same day as the EPA report, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced revised guidelines for the department's Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, known as "1605 (b)," that agency officials said will encourage broader reporting of emissions and sequestration by utilities, and industries, as well as small businesses and institutions.

EPA report

EPA's report, Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2004, analyzes the sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The agency states that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which occurred during a period of economic expansion, was due primarily to an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption. Fossil fuel combustion was the largest source of emissions, accounting for 80 percent of the total. While the U.S. economy expanded by 51 percent from 1990 to 2004, emissions have grown by 15.8 percent over the same period.

However, the report finds that both methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions have decreased from 1990 levels by 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

This report is the latest in an annual set of reports that the United States submits to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.

The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2004 report can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/publications/emissions.

DOE's revised guidelines

According to DOE, the revised guidelines strengthen the existing public registry for emissions and sequestration data and introduce new methods for U.S. businesses and institutions to calculate entity-wide emission reductions.

The guidelines provide tools and guidance for companies to amend their own greenhouse gas management efforts through high quality emission inventories and entity-wide assessments of emission reductions, while also establishing a public record of these efforts, department officials said. Under this program, U.S. companies will submit detailed, annual reports on their emissions and reductions of greenhouse gases, and these reports will become part of the public record.

While the revised guidelines are primarily directed at large emitters of greenhouse gases, such as electricity generators and major industries, special provisions also encourage participation by farmers and small businesses.

DOE's Energy Information Administration will administer this voluntary reporting program and will prepare and make available for public review the forms necessary to implement the revised guidelines during the 2007 reporting cycle.

For more information on the revised guidelines visit http://www.pi.energy.gov/enhancingGHGregistry.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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