April 16, 2014

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Establishes June 30 Deadline for Oil and Natural Gas Companies’ Submittal of Requests for Alternative Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Methods

On May 1, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule amendment moving up the deadline for petroleum and natural gas systems to submit their requests to use alternative monitoring methods to comply with the federal Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, 40 C.F.R. Part 98. 

The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule was initially promulgated on October 30, 2009, and it has been amended numerous times. The rule requires annual reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) data and other relevant information from larger sources and suppliers in the United States. Under the rule, 41 different source categories report GHG information to EPA, and EPA then uses the reported data to create a national inventory and for policy making. Each source category has separate monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. Monitoring began in 2010 for most sources, with first reports due in September 2011. For most sources, subsequent annual reports are due by March 31 in each year.

On November 30, 2010, EPA finalized the source category for petroleum and natural gas systems, at 40 C.F.R. Part 98, Subpart W. A facility in this source category must report GHG emissions if it emits at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents in any calendar year. Examples of facilities affected by this rule include pipeline transporters of natural gas, natural gas distribution facilities, extractors of crude petroleum and natural gas, and natural gas liquid extraction facilities.

As with several other subparts to the rule, EPA allowed owners or operators of petroleum and natural gas systems to use “best available monitoring methods” when the rule first became effective as a substitute for the required monitoring parameters in § 98.233. This gave owners and operators additional time where needed to comply with the rule’s specific monitoring and quality assurance/quality control requirements. Best available monitoring methods may include supplier data, engineering calculations, other company records, or monitoring methods currently used by the facility that do not meet the specifications of subpart W.

For reporting years after 2012, the rule originally required facilities to submit requests to use these best available monitoring methods by September 30 of the year prior to the reporting year for which use of the alternative methods was sought. Under the recent rule amendment, EPA has tightened the deadline for owners or operators of petroleum and natural gas systems to notify of their intent to use best available monitoring methods, and owners and operators must now submit requests by June 30 of the year prior to the reporting year for which use of the alternative methods is sought.

In an earlier Federal Register notice discussing the proposal for the revised deadline, EPA indicated its reasons for tightening this deadline, stating that “making this annual deadline earlier will create a more realistic schedule for processing best available monitoring method requests and will improve EPA’s ability to inform owners or operators of EPA’s final determination prior to the reporting year for which such methods are sought.” EPA also indicated that, in 2012, it had received more requests than anticipated and thus had determined that additional time was needed to review future requests.

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About the Author

Stephen M. Richmond, Environmental Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law FIrm

Stephen M. Richmond is an environmental lawyer and a Principal of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. He is resident in the Firm’s Massachusetts office where for eight years he was the Managing Principal. Mr. Richmond's practice is focused on regulatory compliance counseling, and he concentrates on complex air, waste, and permitting issues. He has significant experience working on facility siting and due diligence projects, negotiation of transactional documents, and enforcement defense on federal and state environmental cases.


About the Author

Heidi P. Knight, Environmental Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm

Heidi P. Knight is an Associate in the Baltimore, MD office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., with a general litigation, regulatory, and environmental practice.  Ms. Knight has counseled clients on a variety of federal environmental laws and their state equivalents, in particular RCRA, CERCLA, CAA, and the Lacey Act.  Ms. Knight has experience with a variety of Maryland environmental programs, including solid and hazardous waste management and storage tank regulation.  Ms. Knight has also assisted pro bono clients with contract disputes and...


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