Smokestacks spewing.Photo: William N.The U.S. EPA’s move Thursday to issue a plan for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial polluters will undoubtedly intensify the climate-change war.

But for a host of startups that make software to manage corporate carbon emissions, the EPA action is a holiday gift that will keep on giving year-round.

The agency will propose emission standards for fossil-fuel power plants and oil refineries — which it says account for almost 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas spew — by July 2011 and December 2011, respectively. The EPA has moved to directly regulate greenhouse gas emissions in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, and Wyoming, until those states take action to do so themselves. The agency revoked part of Texas’ air-pollution program.

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“We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, said in a statement. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.”

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Add in California’s launch of a carbon-trading market in 2012, and the next few years could be boom times for greenhouse gas accountants.

“Our business is growing by leaps and bounds because people are planning for carbon to go on the balance sheet,” says Larry Goldenhersh, chief executive of Enviance, a California firm that sells environmental compliance software and services — including those that track greenhouse gas emissions — to big industrial companies.

“You are at the point of the sword, and the president will regulate greenhouse gas emissions without Congress,” Goldenhersch told me recently. “You can sue, but it will take forever. You will be forced to comply with these rules, and if you don’t it will cost you a fortune. Industry will react to regulation as it has in the past ­– it will automate to reduce the cost.”


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