EPA Proposes Six-Month Extension To Report Certain Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed Aug. 4 to defer for six months the 2012 deadline for electronics manufacturers, petroleum and natural gas facilities, and several other industries to begin reporting their greenhouse gas emissions (76 Fed. Reg. 47,392).

Extending the reporting deadline for those sources from March 31, 2012, to Sept. 28, 2012, will provide additional time to develop and allow affected industries to test the electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool (e-GGRT), EPA said.

The proposed rule, which would amend 40 C.F.R. Part 98, also would eliminate the requirement for most underground coal mines to report their emissions, would require industries to report any alternate monitoring methods they used, and would make several other technical corrections to the reporting requirements.

Many of the proposed revisions are intended to clarify industries’ reporting requirements and reduce the burdens on affected businesses, EPA said.

“These changes impose no additional burden for facilities, and could be readily implemented for the 2011 reporting year,” it said.

The proposed extension of the reporting deadline would apply to

• electronics manufacturing,

• fluorinated gas production,

• magnesium production,

• petroleum and natural gas systems,

• electric transmission and distribution equipment,

• underground coal mines,

• industrial wastewater treatment,

• import and export of equipment pre-charged with fluorinated greenhouse gases,

• geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide,

• manufacturing of electric transmission and distribution equipment,

• industrial waste landfills, and

• injection of carbon dioxide.

Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, told BNA Aug. 3 that industry groups had requested several technical corrections to the reporting requirements. Although the institute was still reviewing the proposed rule, he said the additional six months to report greenhouse gas emissions “is consistent with where we are on this.”

Representatives of other industry groups could not be reached for comment.

Rules Issued in 2009, 2010

EPA issued the greenhouse gas reporting requirements for sources with emissions that exceed 25,000 tons per year in 2009. Initially, the rule applied to suppliers of coal-based liquid fuel, petroleum products, natural gas, industrial greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide in addition to facilities that use those resources, including stationary fuel combustion sites, electricity generators, manure management sites, waste landfills, and multiple manufacturing plants (74 Fed. Reg. 56,260; 40 ER 2554, 11/6/09).

EPA required additional industries, such as underground coal mines, petroleum and natural gas producers, and electronics manufacturers, to report their emissions in five other rules issued in 2010. Those rules required those industries to begin collecting emissions data in 2011 and to begin reporting their emissions in 2012 (75 Fed. Reg. 39,736; 75 Fed. Reg. 74,458; 75 Fed. Reg. 74,774; 75 Fed. Reg. 75,060; 75 Fed. Reg. 79,092).

The latest proposed rule does not address the various petitions EPA has received to reconsider portions of the reporting requirements, which the agency will address in a separate action.

Most Underground Coal Mines Exempted

The proposed rule would require only those active underground coal mines that liberate 36.5 million actual cubic feet of methane or more per year to report their emissions.

Previously, EPA had required all mines with ventilation systems subject to quarterly inspection by the Mine Safety and Health Administration to report their emissions. However, that would have required all 612 active mines to report their emissions, something EPA said it did not intend when it issued the requirements.

According to EPA, about 500 mines would no longer be required to report their emissions under the proposed revisions. Those mines represent only 14 percent of that industry's total greenhouse gas emissions, the agency said.

Alternate Methods Must Be Reported

EPA is also proposing to require all emissions sources to clearly detail any alternative monitoring methods they may have used when reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. The existing requirements are unclear on who would be required to report those alternative monitoring methods, EPA said.

EPA's greenhouse gas reporting rule allows affected facilities to use alternative emissions calculations methods, known as best available monitoring methods, if other monitoring methods are not feasible. The alternatives could include estimating emissions using factors such as raw material use.

EPA said it intends to issue the final rule by the end of 2011.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 19. Comment can be made at http://www.regulations.gov and should reference docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0147.

By Andrew Childers

For more information, contact Carole Cook in EPA's Office of Atmospheric Programs at (202) 343-9263 or GHGReportingRule@epa.gov . The proposed rule and other supporting material are available at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/technical-corrections.html#2011 .