GHG MRR Amendments – It’s Time to Deal with Confidential Data



On October 24, 2014, EPA finalized another confidentiality rule pertaining to the GHG Mandatory Reporting Rule (MRR) under 40 CFR Part 98. This rule significantly affects GHG recordkeeping and reporting requirements and preparations for the upcoming annual reporting deadline on March 31, 2015, covering CY 2014 emissions.

Understanding the background and context of EPA’s confidentiality rules pertaining to MRR is critical when reading about this new rule. The history for MRR treatment of confidential business data traces back more than three years to when EPA first issued a rule amendment essentially recognizing that some of the required data inputs in the original MRR could be considered sensitive business information.

EQ Fall 2014 - GHG MRR Table 1

In August 2011, EPA deferred the reporting deadline for certain data elements (specifically, inputs to equations) until either March 31, 2013 or March 31, 2015 to allow time for the Agency to evaluate confidentiality issues. Many of the deferred data elements were considered potentially confidential since they pertain to annual production throughputs and material usage rates that can be proprietary information for many industries. In that rule amendment, EPA aimed to defer the reporting of noted sensitive data inputs, until it could decide how to treat the data and maintain confidentiality where appropriate. In the August 2011 rulemaking, EPA issued an MRR rule amendment where some of these data elements were deferred for reporting until 2013, and another set of data elements were deferred until 2015 (See Tables A-6 and A-7 of the rule).

For the initial set of data elements, the 2013 deferral ended for the reporting deadline on April 1, 2013, and facilities had to report these additional data pieces for reporting years 2010, 2011, and 2012.

EPA is handling the 2015 deferred data elements differently though. The new rule amends recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and adds enhanced verification procedures in 23 subparts of the MRR (see list below for subparts). The path EPA took for reporting the 2015 data elements was not to report these elements at all, but rather to require facilities use an electronic inputs verification tool (IVT).

EQ Fall 2014 - GHG MRR Table 2

Affected facilities would enter data inputs into the IVT, which would then conduct verification checks and send an accuracy/approval report to EPA. The tool will not retain the sensitive data elements. To test the new IVT, EPA has released a sandbox testing site for all affected subparts. Facilities can test the IVT for their respective subparts according to the schedule in Table 2. EPA will then incorporate comments and roll out the final system early in 2015 for reporting. Testers cannot use their existing e-GGRT account, but must sign up for a new account to use the IVT sandbox. EPA will send new login credentials for a hypothetical facility for sandbox testing.

Facilities should utilize the sandbox testing period to prepare for the changes within e-GGRT that will affect the next reporting deadline. Use of sandbox testing will enable companies to estimate how much more effort will be required to develop the MRR report in 2015 as well as whether additional steps will be necessary to protect confidential business data.

For more detail on accessing the IVT sandbox, please use the links below.

Access IVT sandbox now: http://sandbox.ccdsupport.com/ghg-ry2014/login.do;
IVT Help site: http://www.ccdsupport.com/confluence/display/help/RY2014+Sandbox+Testing;
EPA’s webinar with IVT sandbox instructions: http://www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/documents/pdf/2014/training/InputsVerifierToolSandbox.pdf

For questions or assistance with GHG MRR reporting, please contact Aimee Andrews at aandrews@trinityconsultants.com or your local Trinity office at (800) 229-6655.