The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed a comprehensive U.S. system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, a step toward regulating and reducing these emissions.

The new plan would affect fossil fuel suppliers, automakers and companies that emit at least 25,000 metric tons of climate-warming greenhouse gases a year, the EPA said in a statement.

The U.S. government already has statistics on emissions from coal-fired power plants, which also emit carbon dioxide.

Some 13,000 facilities, accounting for about 85 percent to 90 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, would be covered under the proposal.

Our efforts to confront climate change must be guided by the best possible information, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said. ...This is a critical step toward helping us better protect our health and environment -- all without placing an onerous burden on our nation's small businesses.

President Barack Obama has been vocal in his support for a market-based plan to limit carbon emissions to try to stem global warming. Members of Congress have already begun working on legislation to make this happen.

Gathering information on U.S. emissions is the first step in this direction, said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

This is an important foundation step toward regulating greenhouse gases and reducing them, Doniger said by telephone after meeting with EPA officials. The first thing you have to know is where they're coming from and how much is coming from different industrial facilities and other sources around the United States.


The U.S. Clean Air Act mandates collecting data on emissions from electric power plants, but a 2007 congressional move to require big industries and the transportation sector to report on how much carbon they emit was blocked by the Bush administration.

The EPA's plan envisions the new reporting requirements going into effect by next year, with the first annual report submitted to the environment agency in 2011 for the 2010 calendar year.

The rules would apply to companies that make fossil fuels, industrial chemicals, cars and engines, the agency said, along with large so-called direct emitters that send 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide or more each year into the atmosphere.

The agency said this threshold is roughly equivalent to the annual amount of greenhouse gases emitted by about 4,500 passenger vehicles.

The vast majority of small businesses would not be required to report their emissions because their emissions fall well below the threshold, the EPA said.

Direct emissions sources that would be required to report their emissions include energy-intensive sectors like cement production, iron and steel production and electricity generation.

Complying with this reporting rule would cost the private sector $160 million for the first year, with annualized private sector costs estimated at $127 million in subsequent years, the agency said.