PA 04-252—sSB 595

Environment Committee

Transportation Committee

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Legislative Management Committee

Energy and Technology Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE

SUMMARY: This act requires (1) the state to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of a regional effort to reduce such emissions and (2) the Governor’s Steering Committee on Climate Change to develop plans to help achieve the reduction goals. It requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner to (1) report annually on progress in achieving the goals and (2) work to establish a regional greenhouse gas registry and regional reporting system with other states or a regional consortium. The act requires certain electric generators and commercial and industrial sites annually to report their greenhouse gas emissions to the registry. The commissioner must also annually consider requiring (1) additional facilities or sectors to report to the regional greenhouse gas registry and (2) the reporting of additional greenhouse gases, and direct and indirect emissions.

The commissioner must also:

1. provide for the voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by entities not required to report,

2. evaluate the feasibility of creating and administering a statewide registry if a regional registry is not developed and implemented, and

3. publish a greenhouse gas emissions inventory every three years.

The act authorizes the commissioner to adopt regulations to implement the greenhouse gas registry and reporting provisions, and gives him broad authority to adopt regulations to implement the act.

The act requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to develop and maintain information about environmentally preferable practices, in addition to environmentally preferable products and services the law already requires, including those practices, products, and services that minimize the impact of global warming. But it limits those practices, products, and services to those DAS procures.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2004

GREENHOUSE GASES

Under the act, a greenhouse gas is any chemical or physical substance emitted into the air that the DEP commissioner may reasonably expect to cause, or contribute to, climate change. These include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

EMISSION REDUCTION GOALS

The act sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help achieve the regional goal of reducing such emissions to (1) 1990 levels by January 1, 2010 and (2) 10% below 1990 levels by January 1, 2020. The act requires the DEP commissioner to consult with the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers to set a long-term deadline for the regional goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% to 85% below 2001 levels. If the conference does not set this deadline by January 1, 2007, the commissioner must set 2050 as the long-term deadline.

Climate Change Action Plans

The act requires the Governor’s Steering Committee on Climate Change to develop, by January 1, 2005, a multi-sector, comprehensive climate change action plan that includes policies and programs needed to reach the state’s 2010 and 2020 emissions goals. The steering committee must (1) provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the plan; (2) notify each member of the General Assembly of its development and the opportunity for public comment; and (3) submit it by January 1, 2005 to the Environment, Energy and Technology, Transportation, and Commerce committees, which must review it by January 15, 2005 at a joint informational public hearing, and meet by February 1, 2005 to consider endorsing it. The steering committee must submit a final plan to the committees by February 15, 2005. The act does not require the committees to approve the final plan.

The steering committee must, by January 1, 2008, develop and submit to the Environment Committee an amended climate change plan for achieving the state’s contribution towards achieving the long-term regional goal. The steering committee must have provided the public an opportunity to comment on this plan.

Progress Report

The DEP commissioner, in collaboration with other state agency commissioners and the steering committee, must report to the Environment Committee by December 1, 2005, and annually thereafter, on (1) progress made in achieving the short- and long-term emission reduction goals and (2) the appropriateness of the climate change action plans in achieving those goals.

GREENHOUSE GAS REGISTRY

The DEP commissioner must work with other states or a regional consortium to establish a regional greenhouse gas registry for greenhouse gas emissions and a regional reporting system.

By April 15, 2006, and annually thereafter, owners or operators of any facility (1) with stationary emission sources that emit greenhouse gases and (2) required by Title V of the federal Clean Air Act to report air emissions data to DEP must report the facility’s direct stack greenhouse gas emissions to the regional registry. The report must be in a type and format the registry can accommodate.

If a regional registry is not developed and implemented by April 15, 2007, the commissioner must evaluate the feasibility of creating and administering a statewide registry. But reporting entities must send their data to a regional registry if one is created. It is not clear to whom entities must report between April 15, 2006 and April 15, 2007 if a regional registry is not then in place.

By July 1, 2006, the commissioner must provide for the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to the regional registry by entities and facilities that the act does not require to report, but which do so voluntarily. The reports must be in a type and format the registry can accommodate. Entities that report voluntarily apparently need not report to a statewide registry, if one is established.

The commissioner must annually consider expanding the regional greenhouse gas registry to require the reporting by, or of, other (1) facilities or sectors, (2) greenhouse gases, and (3) direct and indirect emissions. He must include the reasons for his decisions on whether to expand the registry in his annual progress reports to the Environment Committee. Under the act, direct emissions are emissions from factory stacks, manufacturing processes and vents, and company-owned or leased motor vehicles. Indirect emissions are those associated with the consumption of purchased electricity, steam, and heating or cooling by buildings, structures, or installations located on an entity’s property.

By July 1, 2006, and every three years afterwards, the commissioner must publish a state greenhouse gas emissions inventory, including comprehensive estimates of the amount of greenhouse gas emitted in the state for the last three years for which he has data.

ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERABLE PRACTICES

Under existing law, DAS must establish procedures to promote the procurement and use of environmentally preferable products and services that have a lesser or reduced negative effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products. The act requires it to promote environmentally preferable practices as well.

It requires DAS, by January 1, 2005, and annually thereafter, to develop and maintain information about environmentally preferable practices, in addition to environmentally preferable products and services the law already requires, including products, services, and practices that minimize the impact of global warming. But it limits those practices, products, and services to those DAS procures. The act eliminates a provision limiting the department to do so within available appropriations. DAS must monitor the use of environmentally preferable practices, in addition to services and products the law requires, and designate those products, services, or practices that cost the same or less than other, similar products, services, or practices.

BACKGROUND

Global Warming

Many scientists believe global warming is caused when carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, produced in large part by the burning of fossil fuels, trap heat in the atmosphere. They believe this will cause a wide range of harmful effects, including hotter summers, more frequent droughts, the melting of polar ice caps and subsequent rise in sea level, impaired air quality, and higher rates of respiratory disease.

Climate Change Action Plan

The Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, representing the six New England states and the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, issued a Climate Change Action Plan in 2001 that recommended short- and long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The governor subsequently appointed a steering committee to organize a discussion among businesses, nonprofit organizations, state and local government agencies, and academic institutions of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It issued its report in January 2004.

Reporting Entities

DEP issues Title V operating permits to power plants and other major sources of air pollution subject to the federal Clean Air Act. Permittees must ensure compliance with pollution control requirements. According to DEP, about 126 facilities report to it under Title V.