OMB Clears Confidential Information Rule for Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The White House Office of Management and Budget Sept. 15 cleared a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency that will guide electronics manufacturing and seven other broad industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions on whether their data will be considered confidential and thus not released to the public.

EPA requires entities emitting at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent a year to inventory and report those emissions to the agency.

The proposed EPA rule cleared by OMB governs eight emissions sources covered by the agency's reporting rule that were not included in a related confidential business information definition published by the agency in May. At that time, EPA determined that data on greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities and the methods used to measure and calculate those emissions are generally public information. (See related story; 103 WCCR, 5/25/11.)

The confidential business determinations for the eight sources were submitted for OMB review July 13 and define what data would be considered confidential business information by the agency. (See related story; 137 WCCR, 7/14/11.)

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register shortly. EPA expects to finalize it in March 2012.

2012 Reporting Deadline for These Categories

Although EPA requirements for measuring greenhouse gases for many sources went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, emissions from the eight sources affected by the confidential data determination—including electronics manufacturing, fluorinated gas production, and petroleum and natural gas systems—do not have to be reported until 2012.

The other five emissions sources are sulfur hexafluoride and perfluorocarbons from electrical equipment at electric power systems, geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, injection of carbon dioxide; sulfur hexafluoride and perfluorocarbons from electrical equipment manufacture or refurbishment, and importers and exporters of fluorinated greenhouse gases contained in pre-charged equipment or closed-cell foams.

Specific industry sectors affected by the latest rule include crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, electric bulk power transmission, and manufacturing of commercial and industrial refrigeration equipment, among others.

Between 85 percent and 90 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from approximately 13,000 facilities are covered by EPA's mandatory greenhouse gas emissions requirements (40 CFR Part 98).

The EPA regulations require reporting by 41 industrial categories, with 29 of those sectors required to report emissions for 2010. The remaining 12 sectors will be required to report their 2011 emissions next year.

By Dean Scott