CLIMATE:

EPA sends proposal on GHG reporting confidentiality to White House

White House regulatory officials this week began their review of U.S. EPA's draft rule detailing what information will be protected as "confidential business information" under the agency's greenhouse gas reporting rule.

EPA on Wednesday submitted a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that will establish what information is "emissions data" and what information will be protected as confidential business information, according to a federal Web site that tracks rulemakings.

The rule will apply to businesses that were required to begin tracking their greenhouse gas emissions data under EPA's mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule that was finalized last fall. The new rule required about 10,000 large facilities to begin collecting emissions data on Jan. 1, 2010. The first emissions reports will be due in March 2011 (Greenwire, Sept. 22, 2009).

Some industry groups have urged EPA to acknowledge the need for strict confidentiality of sensitive business information in advance of the reporting deadline.

In comments submitted to EPA last year by the American Petroleum Institute, the group urged EPA to "carefully assess what is actually needed for policy decisions and make a clear distinction between what is mandated for reporting [versus] what would be disclosed publicly." All ancillary data that are required for reporting and could help EPA better understand and verify the emissions data should be kept confidential, the group said.

Pamela Campos, an attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, said her group is "very pleased to see that EPA is planning to handle these confidentiality issues in the reporting rule" well before companies are required to submit their emissions data to EPA. "Having public access to the data is absolutely essential," she added.

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