EPA Finalizes Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule

On September 22, 2009, the EPA Administrator signed the final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule.  This development is significant in that it represents the first federal requirement to report and monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from approximately 10,000 industrial facilities representing 85% of GHG emissions in the U.S.

As originally proposed, the reporting threshold will be 25,000 metric tons of CO2e/yr (actual emissions) or capacity-based thresholds depending on the sector type.  The final rule requires reporting of annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and other fluorinated greenhouse gases, as applicable to the reporting facility.

Although there was some discussion of EPA potentially delaying reporting of GHG emissions for one year; EPA did not revise the reporting schedule in the final rule.  The final rule requires annual reporting, with the first reports due on March 31, 2011 for calendar year 2010 emissions.  This means that monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping activities must begin on January 1, 2010 at subject facilities.

Most notably, the final rule excludes several sectors from reporting at this time, including the following:

  • Electronics manufacturing
  • Oil and natural gas systems
  • Ethanol production
  • SF6 from electrical equipment
  • Fluorinated GHG production
  • Underground coal mines
  • Food processing
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Industrial landfills
  • Suppliers of coal
  • Magnesium production 

In addition, similar to the flexibility allowed under the California Air Resources Board (ARB) AB 32 GHG reporting requirements, EPA will allow facilities to exit the reporting program if they invest in reducing GHG emissions, as follows:

  • Cease reporting after 5 consecutive years of emissions below 25,000 metric tons CO2e/year
  • Cease reporting after 3 consecutive years of emissions below 15,000 metric tons CO2e/year
  • Cease reporting if the GHG-emitting processes or operations are shut down

Other significant revisions and clarifications to the rule include the following:

Emissions Calculations:  The use of the Tier 2 calculation method for CO2 emissions was expanded to include units greater than 250 mmBtu/hr that combust only pipeline natural gas and/or distillate oil.
Exemptions:  EPA added exemptions for unconventional fuels, flares, hazardous wastes, and emergency equipment. 
Aggregation:  More facilities will be able to aggregate reporting of emissions from smaller units rather than report emissions for each individual unit.  The proposed rule limited the aggregation of any one group to a combined maximum capacity of 250 <MMBtu/hour heat input. The final rule allows grouping of any units that individually are less than 250 MMBtu/hour heat input.
Fuel Sampling:  The fuel sampling frequency for Tiers 2 and 3 was reduced for fuels that are homogeneous or delivered in shipments or lots.  Averaging of fuel sampling results is also permitted in certain circumstances.  Finally, fuel sampling as provided by the fuel supplier as well as the use of fuel billing records to quantify fuel consumption is permissible.
Missing Data:  The final rule provides additional clarification and flexibility regarding missing heating value, carbon content, and molecular weight data.
Monitoring:  EPA added a provision to allow use of best available monitoring methods in lieu of required monitoring methods for January - March 2010; extensions for this flexibility beyond March 2010 will be considered but will not be granted after 2010.  EPA also added monitoring provisions that allow engineering calculation estimates to preclude the need for new monitor installation.
Verification:  To better allow EPA to verify reported emissions, more data must be reported rather than kept as facility records.
Electricity Indirect Emissions:  Both the proposed and final rules do not require submittal of emissions or usage data regarding electricity purchased.

Trinity invites you to participate in a webinar that outlines the changes and requirements pertinent in the final rule.  Register online for Oct. 6 or Oct. 8 or contact Margaret Moore at (919) 462-9693 for more information.

If you have any immediate questions on this important development, please contact Katherine Blue, Trinity’s Climate Change Services Practice Leader, at kblue@trinityconsultants.com or 678-441-9977.