Bill seeks emissions data from energy projects on U.S. lands

By Corbin Hiar | 09/15/2016 07:00 AM EDT

A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers today plans to introduce legislation calling for the online posting of information about energy projects on federal lands and the planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions associated with them.

The "Transparency in Energy Production Act" is from Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. It will be co-sponsored by Reps. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), as well as Florida Reps. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, both of whom are Republicans in tight re-election races.

The bill would require the Interior Department to freely and publicly publish at least annually the total amount of fossil fuels produced by type and state on federal lands, the portion of those fuels that was lost to venting, flaring or fugitive releases, and information on the agency’s fossil fuel leases and potential leases.


Interior would also need to post online data detailing solar, wind and geothermal projects on federal lands. Greenhouse gases produced by oil, gas and coal extraction and emissions offset by renewable energy projects would be published as well.

Furthermore, the legislation calls for biennial reports to Congress on how Interior is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal lands and waters.

Such reductions are a top priority for the Obama administration. Last year, the president ordered all federal agencies to cut their emissions 40 percent from 2008 levels by 2025 (Greenwire, March 19, 2015).

The Wilderness Society, which helped craft the legislation, applauded the sponsors for their leadership on addressing climate change with better information.

"This legislation is sorely needed because the federal government has never tracked how much carbon pollution comes from fossil fuels pulled out of public lands," said Josh Mantell, the conservation group’s carbon management campaign manager. "Bipartisan efforts such as this are essential to coming up with solutions to reduce the threat of global climate change."

But with little chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress — especially so late in the legislative session — congressional observers are likely to count the bill’s bipartisan support as its most significant achievement.

The legislation is also one of the first to emerge from the Climate Solutions Caucus, a climate change-focused group whose membership — like the bill’s sponsor list — is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. All of the backers aside from Tsongas are members of the group, which has been dubbed the "Noah’s Ark Caucus" for its one-by-one approach to adding Republican and Democratic members (E&E Daily, Feb. 9).