Former EPA climate director Kruger discusses future of air rules, GHG reporting program

How will data from U.S. EPA's greenhouse gas reporting program change the game for industry? During today's OnPoint, Dina Kruger, principal at Kruger Environmental Strategies and the former director of EPA's climate change division, explains how the greenhouse gas reporting program, which is set to begin rolling out data at the end of this month, will affect business and public relations for participating industries. She also reacts to the Obama administration's rollback of ozone regulations.


Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Dina Kruger, principal at Kruger Environmental Strategies and the former director of EPA's Climate Change Division. Dina, it's great to have you here.

Dina Kruger: Nice to be here.

Monica Trauzzi: Dina, this month's decision by the Obama administration to roll back on ozone regulations has left many questions about the impact of regulations on the economy and also the future of these regulations and environmental rules. What's your take on the strategy behind the Obama administration's decision?

Dina Kruger: Well, I think that in this -- I mean in our current climate, our economic climate, we're really dealing with the challenge of can you do environmental protection and economic growth together? Now, I'm someone who believes that these two things can go hand in hand, but, as we know, there's a lot of people that don't hold that view. And I think that at the end of the day, I don't know why exactly the Obama administration made that decision, but they made a call that they were going to pull this one back. I mean I'm optimistic and hopeful that EPA is going to be able to continue forward with the other regulations that it's doing. There's a lot of really important steps that they've taken so far and I think they're on a good path.

Monica Trauzzi: There's some thinking that the ozone rule was probably the easiest one to roll back on. Is that your thinking as well?

Dina Kruger: Well, I don't know if it's the easiest, but I think that it was certainly a rule that, as the president said in his statement, that because there will be another -- there's a planned review of this ozone NACS coming up in 2013, it's not like there won't be another opportunity to move forward.

Monica Trauzzi: So, you left EPA in February after 22 years working there. With so much happening at EPA under Lisa Jackson, why did you feel compelled to leave at this time?

Dina Kruger: I really thoroughly enjoyed my time at EPA and I loved working for Administrator Jackson. We got a lot done. When I was there I was able to put out the greenhouse gas reporting rule and also manage the endangerment finding that we did. I just found after 22 years I think I was ready for change and I'm thoroughly enjoying my new opportunities as well. So, it was a good time to be there and a fine time to leave too.

Monica Trauzzi: And now you are working directly with companies and NGOs that are interested in some assistance on a Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program and we're going to start seeing data coming out of that program at the end of this month. What are the key challenges that you've encountered with these companies when it comes to preparing for the release of this data?

Dina Kruger: I think what we're finding, and the companies have been very engaged -- are very engaged in the program, but I think what we're finding is making sure that across all of the facilities that they have that they're operating consistently, that they're doing the same things for the same types of facilities, that they've got the right kind of documentation and keeping the records that they're supposed to be keeping. And then I think, as they have the data now in hand, that they have two opportunities and two challenges and to challenges with respect to how they move forward. One is understanding what it means, what they can learn from the data, from the emissions data and how they can understand sort of where their plants are fitting within their own company and within the sector and what opportunities they have to reduce emissions. And then also thinking forward about how their stakeholders are going to react when the emissions are made public by EPA.

Monica Trauzzi: There was some concern at one point about EPA potentially releasing confidential information. How have they come down on that?

Dina Kruger: Yeah, EPA put out a proposal back about a year ago and actually talked about how it was planning on dealing with confidential information and there was a lot of reaction from industry concerned that some of the data that EPA had said they thought they would release or would need to release was going to be confidential. EPA has since pulled back on that and is taking more time to work through these issues and to make sure that confidential information won't be released. So, at this point, with the information being reported at the end of this month, there aren't any problems with confidentiality.

Monica Trauzzi: Are there concerns from within the business community about how some of this data might be used, say by the media?

Dina Kruger: I haven't heard that there are major concerns, but I think that smart companies should be looking at their own data and trying to think forward about what kinds of questions or potential concerns could arise from the media, from investors, from environmental organizations, from local communities. I think that if they do that kind of planning now and they think about how they're going to explain what their emissions are and why they're emissions are where they are, they can be fully prepared.

Monica Trauzzi: So, from your experience, do companies, for the most part, feel it's fair to have to do this or is that kind of still up in the air?

Dina Kruger: From my-certainly my impression and my experience when I was working at EPA was we had really excellent engagement with-across a number of industry sectors. And this was a rule that the community seemed to like. They got their questions answered. EPA was very responsive and so I think that, at this point, there's a lot of support behind the rule. It's not a regulation. And nobody is required to install any control technology or reduce their emissions as a part of this rule.

Monica Trauzzi: But they may feel compelled to if their numbers appear higher.

Dina Kruger: Well, I think -- yeah, but I think that when -- the way to sort of look at that, most of the sectors that are reporting here, I mean the vast majority of the reporters are not in sectors that are on any kind of short list to be regulated, to have their greenhouse gas emissions regulated. So, I think what we're going to see is if the companies -- you know, presumably -- I would advise that the companies should be looking at their emissions and trying to see where they themselves have opportunities. Most of the CO2 emissions coming from these industries are from fuel combustion. So, if you can find efficiencies, you can reduce your fuel consumption and ideally save some money while you're doing that. I think that they should also be really listening to their stakeholders and trying to hear, you know, what kinds of questions they have and what sorts of concerns or suggestions do they have for moving forward. And then it's really going to be in the hands of each individual company to decide what makes sense to do, based on their own business model and where they are. So, it's not -- I think it should work, I think it has the potential to work really well for them.

Monica Trauzzi: And how does this program fit into the broader picture of regulation and all the regulations that we see coming out of EPA right now?

Dina Kruger: Well, I think this is a rule that certainly, as EPA moves forward, you know, in the future with greenhouse gas regulations or if Congress decides that it wants to do something to regulate greenhouse gases, this data is really going to be a foundation for the policymaking. I mean having a trend in emissions, understanding where they come from is going to be -- is a really critical piece and one that, prior to this rule, we didn't have in the United States.

Monica Trauzzi: OK, interesting stuff. Thank you for coming on the show, nice to see you.

Dina Kruger: Thank you.

Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

[End of Audio]



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