A little visibility shines on big greenhouse pollution

Any facility emitting over 25,000 metric tons of CO2 or equivalent each year will have to deliver reports -- that's about 1,200 sites nationwide. The data will come available a year from now in a searchable database.

With the delivery of a final rule, the Environmental Protection Agency is now requiring major sources of greenhouse pollution to disclose just how much junk they're dumping into the atmosphere.

Any facility emitting over 25,000 metric tons of CO2 or equivalent each year will have to deliver reports -- that's about 1,200 sites nationwide. The data will come available a year from now in a searchable database.

Activists like the National Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund hope the data at least starts a conversation on simple steps that can be taken to fight the climate crisis.

There is precedent for this. The Toxic Release Inventory, a regular report on releases of toxic chemical begun after the 1984 Bhopal disaster, led directly to Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Since 1990 such releases have fallen by more than half.

Cynics wonder whether companies might not just disperse their polluting sites to avoid reporting. But this is not easy.

In Georgia, where I live, coal-burning power plants like Plant Scherer near Macon and Plant Bowen near Milledgeville are well-known pollution sources. Both are now getting scrubbers to reduce this, but their output is also one reason the Administration recently announced loan guarantees to build nuclear plants near Augusta.

Most major point sources of pollution are of this type. They're immense, they are difficult to deal with, but visibility is moving their owners to action.

The only question now is whether they are moving fast enough.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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