Placing the onus

New bill contains provision on making US industries liable to report their emissions

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

in a significant step towards overhauling the us energy policy, the us senate approved an energy bill on April 25, 2002. The bill was passed by a vote of 88 to 11 after a series of discussions. It allows voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions by utilities and industries for five years. However, if after five years the process fails to capture at least 60 per cent of us emissions, mandatory reporting will come into force.

This clause on compulsory reporting makes the bill different from the energy legislation approved last year by the Republican-controlled house of representatives.

In fact, the bill's original proposal required companies emitting more than 10,000 metric tonnes of carbon annually to register their output with the government. But an amendment, introduced on April 22, 2002, made the necessary changes regarding ghg reporting.

Over a year ago, us President George Bush announced that usa would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, since reducing ghg emissions by about 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels during 2008-2012 as required under the pact would cost the us economy dear.

Obviously, the Bush administration opposes mandatory reporting requirements, aligning with the views of the utility and energy industry which says such conditions could eventually lead to binding limits on ghg emissions as required under the Kyoto pact.

Against such a backdrop, the fate of the emissions reporting plan hangs in the balance. The senate bill will now go to a conference committee, comprising senior members of the energy committees from the house and the senate, to reconcile differences with the house bill backed by the Bush administration. The senate and house negotiators are expected to spend months trying to synergise the two energy bills. And there is every likelihood that a final package that can be sent to the White House may not be thrashed out this year.

The United States is one of the world's largest emitter of ghgs, mostly produced by utilities and industrial plants. ghg emissions, particularly carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and factories, have been linked to global warming, which scientists warn could lead to melting of the polar ice and rise in sea levels.

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