By Andrew Childers
The Environmental Protection Agency is granting electronics manufacturers and oil and natural gas systems more flexibility in how they monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions under two rules to be published Sept. 27 in the Federal Register.
The rules will allow the two industries to use alternate monitoring methods to comply with the mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule while EPA addresses various petitions from industry groups to reconsider portions of the reporting requirements.
Both rules amend 40 C.F.R. Part 98 and take effect Sept. 30.
For the largest semiconductor manufacturers, EPA's final rule will allow them to calculate their greenhouse emissions for the years 2011, 2012, and 2013 using emissions factors already contained in existing regulations, rather than determining their emissions using recipe-specific methods. Those emissions factors, such as byproduct formation rates, already are being used by smaller manufacturers, EPA said.
In June, EPA proposed allowing the largest semiconductor manufacturers—those making products on wafers measuring 300 millimeters or less in diameter and that have an annual manufacturing capacity of greater than 10,500 square meters—to use the emissions factors to calculate their fluorinate greenhouse gas emissions from plasma etching processes through Dec. 31, 2012. As part of the proposed rule, EPA asked whether that deadline should be extended through 2013 as well (76 Fed. Reg. 36,472; 121 DEN A-2, 6/23/11).
EPA said allowing the electronics manufacturers to use the existing emissions factors to report their greenhouse gas emissions through 2013 gives the agency additional time to respond to a petition from the Semiconductor Industry Association asking it to reconsider portions of the reporting requirements .
Additionally, EPA will allow oil and natural gas companies to use alternate emissions reporting requirements, known as best available monitoring methods, through 2011 without first requesting the agency's approval. The alternate methods can include calculating emissions using supplier data, engineering calculations, or other company records.
Companies that wish to use best available monitoring methods beyond 2011 must inform EPA by Dec. 31, 2011. Facilities that submit that notice and file a best available monitoring methods request with EPA by March 30, 2012, will automatically be granted permission to use those alternative methods through June 20, 2012.
EPA proposed the rule June 27 (76 Fed. Reg. 37,300; 123 DEN A-5, 6/27/11).
The American Petroleum Institute, Gas Processors Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, and other industry groups petitioned EPA to reconsider portions of the reporting requirements, including the deadlines to determine whether further use of the best available monitoring methods would be necessary.
API also filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the reporting requirements (American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 11-10-26, 1/31/11).
For more information on both rules, contact Carole Cook in EPA's Office of Atmospheric Programs at (202) 343-9263 or GHGReportingRule@epa.gov.