On March 17, 2011, the EPA issued a final rule that extends the deadline for reporting 2010 data under the Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Reporting Program to September 30, 2011. The original deadline was March 31, 2011, but on March 1, 2011, the EPA announced that it was extending the deadline indefinitely. The EPA promised to reveal the new due date by the time the postponed deadline of March 31, 2011 arrived, a pledge it fulfilled with its March 17 announcement.

The GHG Reporting Program, 40 CFR part 98, was initiated on October 30, 2009, when the EPA published a rule for the mandatory reporting of GHG emissions from facilities in the United States that are sources of large GHG emissions and certain suppliers of fuel and industrial GHGs. In general, the threshold for reporting is 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide–equivalent per year. The EPA estimates that about 10,000 facilities are covered by the rule, and those facilities were obligated, as were covered suppliers, to begin measuring GHG emissions on January 1, 2010. The EPA estimates that the rule covers about 85-90% percent of the total GHG emissions from the U.S.

The reporting extension comes as a result of the fact that the EPA has not finalized the electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool (“e-GGRT”) that facilities will be required to use for reporting data. The deadline extension will “allow time for needed refinement of the electronic data reporting system, stakeholder testing of the reporting system and feedback to EPA, and reporter access to the reporting system in advance of the reporting deadline.” 76 Fed. Reg. 14,812 (Mar. 18, 2011). In January and February 2011, the EPA received far more requests for assistance with registration for e-GGRT than had been expected. The EPA concluded from the number and diversity of requests that it could not complete the necessary testing and achieve advanced reporter familiarity with e-GGRT by the original reporting deadline. One of the specific problems with e-GGRT was that, although the reporting tool is meant to allow entry of data either manually or through file uploads, the EPA was still finalizing the file-upload option as the March 31 deadline neared.

Entities that must submit data under the GHG Reporting Program are required to register with e-GGRT no later than 60 days before the new reporting deadline or by August 1, 2011. Until that time, the EPA plans to continue conducting outreach and training webinars on the reporting requirements and use of e-GGRT. Information will be posted on the GHG Reporting Program website and RSS feed. More information on e-GGRT training is available on the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/training.html. The EPA plans to have the electronic reporting tool “available this summer, with the emissions data to be published later this year.”

The change in the reporting deadline applies only to entry of 2010 data. Reporting for future years will be due on March 31 of the following year.