The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its intention to extend the 2011 reporting deadline for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from March 31 to some undetermined date later this year As described in last month’s Venable’s Environmental Law Alert, the GHG reporting obligation arises from EPA's October 2009 GHG rule requiring that approximately 10,000 covered entities start collecting data on GHG emissions beginning with calendar year 2010.

In a recent press release, EPA explains that it is extending this year’s reporting so that it can continue to test and refine the online reporting tool it has developed for covered entities to file their GHG emissions reports. An official extension of the reporting deadline will be issued before the existing March 31 reporting deadline. While EPA has not yet specified what the new deadline will be, an EPA spokesperson expects reporting to begin in late summer.

This extension gives a short reporting reprieve to those industries required to report if they meet the rule’s reporting threshold of 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide (CO2) or CO2-equivalent emissions per year, including hydrogen, glass, ferroalloy, iron, steel, lead, and zinc producers; paper and pulp manufacturers; municipal solid waste landfills; and manure management systems operators. Also given a reporting reprieve are facilities in the other industries that are required to report regardless of their total GHG emissions, including electricity generators subject to EPA's Acid Rain Program; aluminum, ammonia, soda ash, and cement producers; petroleum producers and refineries; and suppliers, importers, and exporters of certain fossil fuel and GHG products.

Other industries are required to begin collecting GHG emissions data for calendar year 2011 and file initial reports on March 31, 2012. These industries include underground coal mines; industrial wastewater treatment facilities; and entities engaged in petroleum and natural gas production, processing, storage, and distribution. There is no indication that the reporting deadline for these industries will be extended.