Councils face carbon tax

Four Hunter councils will be liable to pay the federal government's carbon tax when it starts in two weeks, the regulator overseeing the pollution pricing regime has confirmed.

Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Newcastle are among 32 councils that have landfill sites generating more than 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.

Tips that generate more than that amount will have to pay the tax from mid-2013, 12 months after the carbon tax starts on July 1.

Hunter councils have already said they expect a combined bill of more than $10 million for the next financial year, and have warned ratepayers should expect some hip-pocket pain.

In May, the Clean Energy Regulator published a list of 248 companies, universities and councils which it said would be liable to pay the $23-a-tonne pollution price from July 1.

Yesterday, it added 24 councils and another 22 entities to the list, taking the total to 294.

New liable entities will be added as more information comes to light.

Climate change parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus put a positive spin on the latest news.

"It is clear the vast majority of landfills in Australia will not be covered by the carbon pricing mechanism," he said in a statement.

Mr Dreyfus also pointed out that councils could reduce or eliminate their carbon tax liability by capturing dangerous gases produced by decomposing waste in order to bring them below the 25,000 tonne threshold.

Emissions could be cut by so-called gas flaring, installing combustion equipment, recycling and composting, he said.

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