On March 10, EPA issued its proposed rule requiring large segments of the American economy to audit and report their emissions of green house gases (GHG) and for fossil fuel providers to report their production (see our 3/12/09 news update).
As the comment period will remain open for only 60 days following publication in the Federal Register, affected companies need to act quickly to assess the scope of facilities and processes covered and the methods prescribed in the proposed rule. In addition to reviewing pragmatic compliance questions, affected companies will also face the task of reviewing their corporate reporting practices, including mandated SEC reporting for public companies and voluntary scorecards which companies provide the public and investors. Evaluating these questions early will allow companies to determine what issues are best commented upon in seeking changes to the proposal, to plan for CO2 auditing and reporting, and also to determine what types of GHG disclosures, if any, are appropriate based on the new protocols.
On April 2, 2009, McGuireWoods hosted a webinar to assist companies in navigating this 800-page rulemaking proposal. David Rieser, co-chair of McGuireWoods' Clean Air Team, and Jane Whitt Sellers, who writes and speaks frequently on corporate reporting issues, discussed different aspects of the proposal, including:
- Scope and applicability of the proposed rule
- Proposed methodologies applicable to different industry sectors
- What information is required to be reported and what information can be protected
- Implications for SEC reporting, participation in voluntary reporting programs and benchmarking of companies based on GHG emissions and potential liabilities
- Next steps in the regulatory process and mechanisms for comments