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Interagency group gives White House greenhouse gas emission plan

By OGJ editors

WASHINGTON, DC, July 10 -- An interagency group this week gave the White House a new greenhouse gas emissions plan that calls on regulators to encourage a standardized way for industry to voluntarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

CO2 emitted from the burning of fossil fuels is the largest component of greenhouse gases that are building in the atmosphere, which some believe contributes to a purported catastrophic global warming.

The secretary of energy, joined by the secretaries of commerce and agriculture and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, submitted recommendations to President George W. Bush that creates a new, transferable credit system for reductions.

"The initiative is an important tool for achieving President Bush's national goal to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the American economy by 18% by 2012," DOE officials said.

The agencies said they want to provide credits for actions that remove CO from the atmosphere as well as for actions companies take to reduce overall emissions. They also want to consider extending credits to companies' past actions to lower greenhouse gases.

Improvements eyed
DOE said the recommendations highlight the need to create standardized, widely accepted, transparent accounting methods, support independent verification of registry reports, and provide credits for a broad range of actions. Improving the registry and providing transferable credits for reductions will help motivate firms to undertake cost-effective voluntary reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, US officials maintain.

"We are coordinating our initiative with a broad base of constituents, from individuals and industries to forestry groups and the financial community. We've sought and obtained detailed inputs from multiple stakeholders and held a month-long public comment period," said Sec. of Energy Spencer Abraham. "Our goal is to significantly improve our reporting system, reduce the projected growth in greenhouse gases over the long term, and credit those who voluntarily make real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."

Administration critics, particularly party leaders in the Democrat-controlled Senate, say mandatory, not voluntary CO2 emission reductions are needed to protect the environment. The current Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases program, created by the 1992 Energy Policy Act and managed by DOE's Energy Information Administration, has been operational since 1994. EIA's Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases 2000 contains reports from 222 corporations, associations, and individuals.


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