Yesterday, EPA published notice in the Federal Register of its decision to postpone certain greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting requirements in response to industry's concerns about the disclosure of confidential business information. The decision applies only to specific input data required by previous rules to be included in the annual reports of direct GHG emitters such as power plants, petroleum refineries, and many types of manufacturing facilities. For some of the data, the requirement to report is being postponed until March 31, 2013 (2012 annual report). For the rest of the data, EPA is postponing reporting until March 31, 2015 (2014 annual report) in order to give itself time to evaluate whether disclosure would cause competitive harm to reporting entities.
EPA's GHG Reporting Program requires most large emitters of GHGs to begin reporting their emissions in either 2010 or 2011, with the deadline for 2010 annual reports postponed (in other rulemakings) to September 30, 2011. But these annual reports are not simply the total quantity of GHGs emitted. In an attempt to provide transparency and allow verification of numbers submitted by reporting entities, EPA developed an extensive list of supporting information that must be submitted by each type of facility subject to the rule. This supporting information includes specific "input data" for each industry sector that will allow EPA or members of the public to check each emitter's calculations. Industry has argued throughout the development of the reporting rules that some of this information should be protected from public disclosure as confidential business information.
Emitters are still required to keep records of the input data and to file annual reports (minus the data subject to this notice). If EPA eventually determines that the data does need to be protected, it will attempt to find different ways to verify emitters GHG emissions calculations.
Detailed information about this action is available on the EPA's website here.