Coming soon: Guidance for creating greenhouse gas inventories

One year to the day after President Obama ordered federal agencies to lead the way in conserving energy and cutting pollution, officials at the White House Council on Environmental Quality said they are close to final guidance for agencies on how they should develop greenhouse gas inventories.

All federal agencies are required to inventory their GHG emissions by Jan. 31, 2011, under Executive Order 13514.

In July, the CEQ released draft guidance, as well as a draft of the technical support document containing detailed information on reporting requirements and calculation methodologies.

Leslie Gillespie-Marthaler, senior program manager in CEQ's Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, said officials still were evaluating comments on those drafts and expected to finalize the guidance soon.

This will be the first effort to consistently measure and catalog both direct and some indirect greenhouse gas emissions resulting from federal operations. Gillespie-Marthaler said the final guidance will incorporate best practices across government.

The guidance will have to be updated frequently to keep pace with evolving science and technology, she said.

In addition, the CEQ is updating how agencies implement the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act with new guidance that incorporates the effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions into reviews conducted under NEPA. Proposed draft guidance would establish 25,000 metric tons of GHG emissions per year as an indicator that a project warrants NEPA analysis for climate change impacts.

CEQ expects to release at least some final guidance updating NEPA by the end of the year, said CEQ's Horst Greczmiel.

Both Gillespie-Marthaler and Greczmiel spoke during a panel discussion at the GreenGov symposium in Washington that CEQ and The George Washington University sponsored.

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