The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced an extension to the March 31, 2011, deadline for its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program (Program). This Program was launched in October 2009 and requires the reporting of GHG emissions data from approximately 10,000 large emission sources and fuel suppliers across a range of industry sectors. These industries have been gearing up for this requirement over the past year. This delay is a setback for the Agency in its efforts to move forward a timely GHG regulatory agenda.

In response to various mandates, the Agency recently completed GHG data reporting requirements for a wide range of different industries. A key feature of reporting was to include an online electronic reporting application. According to EPA’s press release, this tool is not yet ready for operation. Without the ability to electronically submit the voluminous amounts of data required, the entire reporting program is unable to continue forward. EPA seems to have run into obstacles in developing this tool, and today’s decision reflects the agency’s intent to continue testing the electronic reporting tool before making it a requirement.

EPA said it needs to do more testing on the software it was developing for the for the reporting program. It is called e-GGRT, which is short for "Electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool" and is pronounced "egret."

"This extension will allow EPA to further test the system that facilities will use to submit data and give industry the opportunity to test the tool, provide feedback, and have sufficient time to become familiar with the tool prior to reporting," today’s statement said.

The delay will be viewed as a benefit to industry, which only was introduced to the Program on December 15 of last year. Earlier this year the House Republicans targeted this aspect of the Program in the stopgap spending bill they passed, though it has not yet been enacted. If additional funding cuts did occur, it would make it even that much more difficult to launch the Program.

Even with the hurdles in front of it, EPA has stated that its goal is to have the final electronic reporting tool available this summer, and the information publicly available before the end of 2011. In the coming weeks EPA will provide more detail on a revised deadline for reporting. In the meantime, EPA will continue to operate its public help center.