EPA Issues GHG Reporting Rule Proposal

WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2023


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that they have issued a proposal meant to amend the reporting requirements for petroleum and natural gas systems under the agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

According to the release, the proposed revisions could improve the accuracy of reported GHG emissions such as methane and are consistent with the Methane Emissions Reduction Program under the Inflation Reduction Act.

GHG Reporting Program

The proposed amendments are reportedly meant for subpart W of the program, which consists of emissions sources in 10 segments of the petroleum and natural gas industry.

According to the release, the GHG Reporting Program requires the reporting of GHG data and other relevant information from large GHG emissions sources, fuel and industrial gas suppliers, as well as carbon dioxide injection sites in the United States

Approximately 8,000 facilities are reportedly required to report their emissions annually, the data for which is then made available to the public in October of each year.

Under subpart W of the GHG program, facilities that contain petroleum and natural gas systems emit 25,000 metric tons or more of GHGs each year report GHG data to the EPA. Owners and operators reportedly collect GHG data; calculate GHG emissions; and follow specified procedures for quality assurance, missing data, recordkeeping and reporting.

Section 60113 of the Inflation Reduction Act amends the Clean Air Act and directs the EPA to impose and collect a charge on methane emissions to exceed certain waste emission thresholds.

The law reportedly requires the EPA to revise requirements for subpart W to ensure the reporting is based on empirical data, accurately reflects the total methane and waste emissions from applicable facilities and allow owners and operators to submit empirical emissions data to “demonstrate the extent to which a charge is owed.”

About the Proposals

According to the EPA, these amendments would address gaps in total methane emissions reported by facilities through adding new covered sources such as “other large release vents,” that would capture “abnormal” methane emission events not usually accounted for when using existing methods.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is moving urgently to reduce climate pollution, and EPA is working to ensure science leads the way with the most accurate emissions data possible,” said Joseph Goffman, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

“The proposed revisions to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program will leverage advancements in technology to produce high-quality, long-term data for emitters, contributing important insights into emissions trends as we work to protect people and the planet.”

Additionally, the EPA states that the new amendments would also:

  • Add new or revise existing calculation methodologies to improve the accuracy of reported emissions data for methane and other greenhouse gases and incorporate additional empirical data;       
  • Include the use of new technologies such as remote sensing for quantifying emissions from other large release events; and
  • Collect data at a more granular level to improve verification and transparency of the data collected.

The EPA has also reportedly announced determinations to establish whether submitted data under the proposed revisions would be entitled to confidential treatment.

According to the release, most revisions would be effective on Jan. 1, 2025, while reporters would implement the changes beginning with reports prepared for the 2025 reporting year and submitted by March 31, 2026.

The agency states that they will take comment on the proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. More information on this action can be found here.

Power Plant Pollution Standard

Earlier this year, in May, the EPA proposed a list of new standards for coal and natural gas-fired plants to address carbon pollution. The standards would reportedly avoid up to 617 million metric tons of CO2 emissions through 2042, the equivalent to the emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles.

According to the EPA's press release at the time, the EPA estimates the net climate and health benefits through 2042 could total $85 billion as a result of these standards.

Consistent with standards under the Clean Air Act, the proposed limits would need “ambitious” reductions in carbon pollution based on power plant control technologies. According to the EPA, these new standards should also allow for grid operators to make “sound long-term planning and investment decisions.”

The EPA added that these standards can be implemented without any large impact on electricity prices.

Additionally, the EPA and Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing to “support grid reliability and resiliency at every stage as the agency advances efforts to reduce pollution, protect public health, and deliver environmental and economic benefits for all.”

The EPA also reported that the technology-based standards in the proposed rule, which will determine how to most cost-effectively meet the proposed standards and emissions guidelines, include:

  • Strengthening the current New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for newly built fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired);
  • Establishing emission guidelines for states to follow in limiting carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel-fired steam generating EGUs (including coal, oil and natural gas-fired units); and
  • Establishing emission guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired).

In a separate study, the EPA projected that these standards and the third phase of NSPS could reduce 407 million metric tons worth of CO2 emissions. These proposed standards reportedly reflect the best system of emission reduction to improve the emissions performance of the sources.

The EPA also said it has considered technologies such as CSS and adopting “highly efficient generation technologies.” According to research from the EPA, installation of controls like CSS for coal and gas plants, and low-GHG hydrogen co-firing for gas plants, are the most affordable for plants that operate at a larger capacity, frequently, or for long periods of time.

The proposal would supposedly require states to engage meaningfully with areas burdened by pollution and climate change impacts as well as energy communities and workers. Following guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality, the proposal would ensure that the advancement of carbon capture and utilization will be done in a “responsible manner that incorporates the input of communities and reflects the best available science.”

   

Tagged categories: Climate Control; Climate monitoring; Emissions; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Gas detectors; Greenhouse gas; Health & Safety; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; President Biden

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