Thursday, April 12, 2012

Keeping Global Warming a Secret

About two years ago ,and for the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided that oil producers and refineries, steel manufactures, aluminum and home appliances companies should present the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and releasing this data to the public. These companies used to send gas emission data to EPA as gross estimate, however, EPA wanted this data to be separated as individual facilities, such as data emissions from transportation, electricity production and manufacturing. Up to this day these companies do not agree with such compliances and are fighting against this proposal from EPA. They believe that releasing such information to the public would reveal companies secrets, therefore competitors would know what happens inside their factories. In addition, they believe the public shouldn’t know anything more than what goes into the atmosphere. 

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Steven H. Bernhardt, global director for regulatory affairs for Honeywell International Inc, says EPA needs to reconsider this proposal otherwise company’s businesses would be damaged. Additionally, aluminum smelters asked EPA to keep 11 of 15 of the data fields confidential, and Koch Nitrogen Co. LLC, a fertilizer producer, thinks EPA’s proposal would only “misguide” the public, adding that “a single factory is unlikely to influence policy on a global problem.”  (Newsvine)

Other companies want EPA to require a third party for data verification, or to let companies argue on a case-by-case basis to keep some of the data confidential, they want this to be done so they don’t have to summit the data at all. EPA responded to these arguments by saying “it's necessary to make the data public in order for the companies' calculations to be checked.” This will give confidence to the public about the quality of each company’s data. The reality is that EPA wouldn’t ask for such data if the companies would measure the right amount of gas pollution emitted at its sources. The equipment to measure this amount is expensive so many companies opt for giving an estimated amount instead of an accurate.

The article also stays that the majority of companies don’t have a problem with giving this data to EPA, but they do not agree with having the information out for the public to see. The only polluting sector that does not have a problem with disclosing information and agrees with EPA’s proposal is electricity producers. In conclusion EPA is not backing up on its proposal. This is the first inventory of greenhouse gases ever made that will determine what limits need to be set and whether they are working to protect the environment.

Written by: Flor D. Medina Chavez.

Cappiello, D. (2010, October 28).  Companies fight to keep global warming data secret.

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