The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Finalizes Rule Deferring Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements for “Inputs to Emission Equations”
On August 25, 2011, EPA issued a final rule deferring reporting requirements under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Mandatory Reporting Rule for data elements identified as inputs to emission equations due to continued concerns regarding confidentiality. As reported most recently in an update provided in the fourth quarter 2010 issue of the Greenebaum Air Quality Letter, in May of this year, citing confidentiality concerns, EPA proposed to defer requiring direct emitter sources to report equation inputs until March 31, 2014. In the final rule, EPA defers the reporting of inputs to emission equations until March 2013 for some data elements and March 2015 for others. Source categories covered by the earlier March 2013 deadline are electric transmission systems, stationary sources that combust fuels, underground coal mines, municipal solid waste landfills, industrial wastewater treatment, electric equipment manufacturers and industrial waste landfills. Facilities must still retain covered data elements as records in a form suitable for expeditious inspection and review during the period of deferral. During the period of deferral, EPA reports that it will continue to evaluate the entitlement of such data to confidential treatment and whether emissions can be calculated or verified using other methodologies. A list of inputs to equations and applicable reporting deadlines are set forth at Tables A-6 and A-7 of 40 CFR Part 98, Subpart A. The rule became effective September 9, 2011.
For data that are not inputs to emission equations, EPA previously published confidentiality determinations for 34 source category data elements on May 26, 2011. (See first quarter 2011 Greenebaum Air Quality Letter for more details). Those 34 source categories represent all source categories required to report 2010 data plus four source categories required to begin reporting for 2011 data (Subparts T, FF, II and TT). With regard to the remaining eight source categories (Subparts I, L, W, DD, QQ, RR, SS and UU), EPA has stated that it plans to finalize confidentiality determinations prior to the 2011 reporting deadline (March 31, 2012). According to news reports, a proposed rule regarding the remaining eight sectors was cleared by the White House for publication on September 15, 2011. As of the date of this publication that proposed rule had not yet appeared in the Federal Register.
In related news, on August 23, 2011 EPA provided notice that contractors performing various services for EPA including verification of data and server maintenance, will be given access to confidential information submitted pursuant to the GHG reporting rule. EPA stated that contractors will be required to sign a written agreement requiring protection of the information prior to access. Contractors covered by the notice include Eastern Research Group, ICF International, RTI International, and Science Applications International Corp.
To view a complete PDF of the Third Quarter 2011 issue of the Air Quality Letter, click HERE.