Unites States: EPA expands greenhouse-gas reporting rule
The proposal would cover all production, transmission, processing and other facilities that produce at least 25,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent of fugitive and vented emissions each year. Companies would begin collecting data on 1 January 2011, and would submit reports each year, beginning 13 March 2012
The EPA's decision expands the scope of the Mandatory Reporting Rule for Greenhouse Gases, promulgated last October, which requires about 30 industry groups to track climate-altering gases and to report their findings to the EPA from 2011. Among the entities included in that mandate, which covers 85% of total US GHG emissions, are offshore petroleum and natural gas production, onshore gas processing, gas transmission, underground gas storage, liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage, and LNG import and export facilities.
The initial proposal also included a section on petroleum and natural gas systems. However, the agency backed off after it received responses from industry, state governments and environmental and consulting groups totalling almost 1,200 pages during the 60-day public comment period.
"Given the scope of the comments received and the complexity of measuring emissions sources in this sector, the EPA did not finalise the subparts related to the petroleum and natural gas industry," the agency reported in announcing the new proposal. "Instead, the EPA took additional time to thoroughly review all comments and with this action is re-proposing reporting requirements for this source category."
According to the EPA, the proposed ruling would cover about 85% of the total GHG emissions from the US oil and gas industry. Just over 3,000 facilities would be affected by the proposed rule, including 1,200 that already are required to report under the initial reporting rule.
The agency estimates compliance with the proposal would cost the private sector about $60m for the first year and $25m in subsequent years, or an average of $18,000 per facility for the first year and $8,000 in the years that follow. "Using the best data available, the EPA forecasts that on average, this cost is less than one-tenth of 1% of annual revenue for each facility," an agency document stated.
According to EPA officials, information gathered by the companies would help provide a better understanding of where GHG emissions originate and how the government and industry can develop effective measures for reducing them.
"This proposed reporting rule would provide important data on the location and magnitude of GHG [emissions] from petroleum and natural gas systems and would allow petroleum and natural gas facilities to track their own emissions, compare them with similar facilities and aid in identifying cost-effective opportunities to reduce emissions in the future," the EPA said.
In addition to the oil and gas industry, other sectors targeted by the ruling include electronics manufacturing, manufacturers of electrical transmission and distribution equipment, fluorinated gas production and importers and exporters of pre-charged equipment with fluorinated GHGs in closed-cell foams.