WASHINGTON — The federal government wants to require companies for the first time to disclose how much greenhouse gases they're releasing into the atmosphere.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed mandatory reporting of the gases blamed for global warming from approximately 13,000 facilities nationwide. The regulation would cover companies that either release large amounts of greenhouse gases directly or produce or import fuels and chemicals that when burned emit heat-trapping gases.
Refineries, automobile manufacturers, power plants, coal mines and large manure ponds at farms would all have to report to the government emissions of at least six different gases.
Together, these facilities account for about 85-90 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA said.
"Our efforts to confront climate change must be guided by the best possible information," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement announcing the proposed regulation.
The EPA currently requires reporting of greenhouse gases only from power plants. It also releases an annual inventory that estimates greenhouse gas emissions from broad categories such as transportation and electricity production.
The regulation proposed Tuesday would collect emissions information from individual facilities that emit 25,000 tons or more of greenhouse gases each year — or the pollution of more than 4,500 cars.
The information will lay the groundwork for any regulation of greenhouse gases. The EPA is taking steps toward controlling greenhouse gases using the Clean Air Act. Congress also is drafting a law to limit the pollution.
"These emissions reporting rules are a welcome foundation for any serious program to curb global warming pollution," said David Doniger, climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
The EPA estimates the registry would cost companies about $127 million a year.
Companies would have to file their first reports in 2011.
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