Initial GHG reporting deadline approaching

By Kris Bevill | January 24, 2011

The first deadline for reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for required participants of the U.S. EPA’s Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule (MRR) is fast approaching. While the first emissions reports are not due until March 31, affected parties must submit a Certificate of Representation through the EPA’s electronic GHG Reporting Tool by Jan. 30. This filing represents an important first step in the reporting process and the agency has cautioned participants not to wait until the Jan. 30 deadline to file their registration.

It is unclear exactly how many U.S. ethanol producers are required participants of the reporting program. In the EPA’s final MRR, ethanol was not singled out as a separate source category. However, under the rule’s stationary source category any facility that emits more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent annually from stationary combustion sources must comply with the rule’s regulations. The EPA estimated in its draft MRR that approximately 60 percent of all ethanol facilities would be required to participate in the reporting program. This estimate may prove to be low. Marnie Stein, a senior environmental specialist at Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources air quality bureau, said information provided to the bureau between 2007 and 2009 shows that all of Iowa’s 39 ethanol plants emit more than 25,000 metric tons of GHG emissions annually.

Jonathan Dettmann, a partner at Minneapolis-based Faegre & Benson LLP and lead lawyer for the firm’s climate change and sustainability practice, said time is of the essence for producers who may not have yet determined the rule’s applicability to their facility. Many required participants are allowed to file abbreviated reports for the 2010 year. That, combined with the fact that data collected and reported to the EPA for this rule will not directly result in GHG emissions regulations may have created a false sense of security for some affected sources, he said. “As we approach this first reporting period, companies are going to begin to recognize the complexities of these regulations,” he said. “We’re also in the second monitoring period, so companies need to be monitoring their emissions in accordance with whatever tier they’re in within that subpart. Some of the tiers are fairly simple in terms of what they require, but as you go up it becomes more and more complicated. So monitoring within the 2011 year is going to become more complicated because all of these tiers will come into play.”

The Jan. 30 deadline basically requires parties to sign on to the EPA’s website and declare a company representative to be the EPA’s point of contact for the MRR regulations. Dettmann recommends that any facility manager unsure of their specific requirements should take immediate action to contact their legal team or outside legal counsel. The EPA has stated that it plans to initially take a facilitative approach to non-compliers and issue warnings for initial failure to comply with the rule. However, the maximum allowable punishment for noncompliance includes fines of up to $37,500 per day.

For more information on the registration requirement, visit www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/e-ggrt_registration.html.