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EPA Applies GHG Reporting Requirements to Four Additional Industry Sectors

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., July 6, 2010

On June 28, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a Final Rule expanding the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (“GHGRP”) (codified at 40 C.F.R. part 98) to require annual greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions reporting from four additional source categories: industrial waste landfills; industrial wastewater treatment facilities; magnesium production facilities; and underground coal mines.  First promulgated on October 30, 2009, the GHGRP is the national system for reporting emissions of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) and other GHGs produced by major emission sources in the United States.  Click here for our complete overview of the GHGRP.  The four newly added sectors were among the forty-two source categories EPA originally proposed for inclusion, but were deferred in the 2009 rulemaking.

As a result of the June 28 Rule, facilities in the following source categories must now submit annual reports of their GHG emissions:

1.  Industrial Waste Landfills:  An industrial waste landfill must now report its annual methane generation and destruction if it: (1) accepted organic waste on or after January 1, 1980; (2) has a total design capacity of at least 300,000 metric tons; and (3) is located at a facility whose aggregate emissions from all source categories covered by the GHGRP are at least 25,000 tons per year (“tpy”) of carbon dioxide equivalent (“CO2e”).  Affected industries include organic chemical manufacturers, plastics and resins manufacturers, pulp and paper facilities, food processors, water treatment facilities, petroleum refineries, rubber and miscellaneous products manufacturers, allied product manufacturers, textile manufacturers, and leather product facilities.  Many of these industries are already required to report their emissions under the GHGRP.  The new Rule means they must now include emissions from their onsite industrial waste landfills in their annual reports. 

2.  Industrial Wastewater Treatment:  Facilities required to report under this source category are those that meet the 25,000 tpy CO2e aggregate emissions threshold, use anaerobic processes to treat industrial wastewater and wastewater treatment sludge, and operate in any of the following sectors: pulp and paper manufacturing, food processing (fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry processing only), ethanol production, or petroleum refining.  As with the industrial landfill category, many facilities with industrial wastewater treatment processes are already subject to the GHGRP; the latest rule will expand their reporting requirements. 

3.  Magnesium Production:  This new source category covers facilities where magnesium is produced and that emit 25,000 tpy or more of CO2e.

4.  Underground Coal Mines:  All active coal mines and those under development are encompassed by this new source category.  Unlike the three other new categories, there is no minimum CO2e emissions threshold for underground coal mines.   

GHG monitoring requirements for the four new source categories begin January 1, 2011, and the first annual reports for these categories are due March 31, 2012. 

Beyond adding four new source categories, EPA also used the June 28 rulemaking to finalize its decision not to include ethanol production and food processing as distinct source categories in the GHGRP.  Even though such facilities are not specifically identified as a source category in the Rule, they must still report their GHG emissions to the extent individual processes at their facilities are listed, and their aggregate emissions from those sources meet the reporting threshold.  For example, a food processing facility with an industrial wastewater treatment process would be required to report its wastewater treatment emissions, along with any other emissions from covered source categories (such as fuel combustion units and industrial waste landfills), if the aggregate emissions from all covered source categories meets the 25,000 tpy CO2e emissions threshold. 

EPA also finalized its decision not include coal suppliers as a source category.  The Agency determined that reporting from suppliers is not necessary because the total CO2 emissions from coal combustion will be obtained through downstream sources covered by the Reporting Rule.  Moreover, EPA concluded that existing data sources already provide substantial information regarding the location and magnitude of emissions from coal consumption. 

The impacts and implementation of this rule and the underlying GHGRP will vary considerably depending on the industry sector and the characteristics of a particular facility.  For more information or if you have any questions, please contact David Friedland at dfriedland@bdlaw.com, (202) 789-6047, or Graham St. Michel at gstmichel@bdlaw.com, (202) 789-6039, in Washington, DC; Amy Lincoln at alincoln@bdlaw.com, (415) 262-4029, in San Francisco; or Steve Richmond at srichmond@bdlaw.com, (781) 416-5710, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.