EPA has proposed a lengthy set of revisions to its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Rule.See “2015 Revisions and Confidentiality Determinations for Data Elements Under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule,” 81 Fed. Reg. 2536. Published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2016, the proposal includes potential changes to 30 separate subparts of the rule, include subparts applicable to the following industrial sectors:

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The proposal contains detailed new requirements for each of the subparts above. EPA has stated that the majority of the changes are required to streamline implementation and reduce the burden on reporting facilities or to improve the quality of data collected. Although EPA has emphasized these positive aspects of the rule, the proposal also imposes additional data collection and reporting burdens for certain industries.

For example, the proposed revisions to Subpart FF, applicable to underground coal mines, will substantially change the manner in which GHG emissions are monitored at underground mines. Currently, underground mines have the option to report GHG emissions by reference to methane monitoring already being conducted pursuant to regulatory requirements of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). In the proposal, however, EPA asserts that the MSHA data is too variable and that independent monitoring of coal mine GHG emissions must be conducted. EPA has proposed that underground mines install continuous emission monitors or take new, independently collected grab samples. Industry commenters from the coal sector have indicated that this will result in a threefold increase in reporting costs under the rule.

In addition to the requirements aimed at data collection, the proposal makes numerous new confidentiality determinations. Under the GHG reporting rule, reporters can designate certain information as confidential business information (CBI). The proposed rule addresses the CBI status of numerous data elements for the following subparts: C, F, E, I, S, V, X, Y, DD, HH, II, OO, and RR. Reporters in these subcategories should carefully review these CBI determinations to determine whether additional confidentiality protections may apply.

Given the numerous and specific changes in the proposal, members of the affected industrial sectors are encouraged to carefully review the new requirements for their applicable subpart. A copy of the proposed rule can be found at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-01-15/pdf/2015-32753.pdf. The public comment period on the proposal has closed, and EPA has stated that it intends to respond to all public comments and issue a final rule before the end of 2016. Depending on industry sector, the proposed revisions would be phased in for implementation over the 2016, 2017, and 2018 reporting years.