Corporations: Our Pollution Is a Trade Secret

July 3, 2013

The White House is having secret meetings with industry over industry's claims that its greenhouse pollution data should be secret.

On June 25, 2013 — yes, that's the day President Obama was giving his climate speech — officials from the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Environmental Protection Agency held a closed-door meeting with lobbyists from the oil and chemical industries who don't want the public to know how they calculate their greenhouse gas emissions.

Present were representatives from Dupont, Marathon, Dow, Eastman, ExxonMobil, and the American Chemistry Council. Under a Clinton-era executive order, the fact of the meeting must be published, though who said what to whom remains secret. Industry lobbyists short-circuit the public regulatory process all the time this way, and OMB essentially dictates to agencies regs that are supposed to be based on evidence in an open docket.

Companies base their calculations of their greenhouse emissions on factors like the amount of fuel they consume or how efficiently they turn feedstock into product. They fear competitors could exploit such information.

EPA requires major companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. The dispute is over a rule governing disclosure of the data companies use to calculate their own emissions. Public watchdogs say that without disclosure, the public can't tell whether companies' calculations are accurate, and companies could escape accountability.