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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.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume III, Number 134

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About this Author

Stephen M. Richmond Environmental Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Boston, MA
Principal

Steve provides strategic advice to clients with environmental issues arising from permitting, regulatory complexity, federal and state enforcement and business transactions.

His experience spans numerous environmental areas, and he spends a substantial portion of his time working on matters related to air quality, solid and hazardous waste, incident response, risk management planning, and transactional support.

His clients typically run businesses subject to multiple layers of environmental requirements. He works to achieve business objectives by analyzing regulatory and...

617-419-2310
Heidi P. Knight Environmental, Health & Safety Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Boston, MA
Principal

Heidi counsels companies nationwide on federal and state environmental, health and safety (EHS) compliance, auditing, and due diligence. 

Heidi has significant experience advising clients across a range of industry sectors on federal and state EHS regulations. She applies her diverse expertise in EHS regulations to help companies comply with requirements in a practical manner, mindful of the companies’ objectives and costs.

EHS Audits, Risk and Compliance Program Assessments

Heidi is a leader of the firm’s EHS Audits, Risk and Compliance Program Assessments practice. She advises a diverse range of companies with planning and conducting comprehensive and targeted compliance audits and managing related federal and state disclosures. She also advises companies on the development and implementation of management systems for environmental compliance.

Heidi was the Compliance Assurance Manager for a manufacturing company for several years. She managed their nationwide EHS audit program, including coordinating facilities and third-party auditors, advising on legal compliance questions, and advising on corrective actions necessary to improve operations, prevent a recurrence, and minimize the risk of potential enforcement actions or other liabilities. 

Heidi also counsels clients on the environmental aspects of acquiring industrial facilities, including identifying and evaluating actual and potential environmental liabilities and identifying permit transfer requirements. 

Occupational Safety and Health

Heidi regularly advises companies on compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and its state equivalents, including compliance with a broad range of health and safety regulations and consensus standards. She also advises clients on preparing for and responding to OSHA investigations and resolving OSHA citations.

Enforcement Defense

Heidi defends companies in federal and state environmental enforcement actions. Among her cases, Heidi and her colleagues successfully defended a manufacturing plant in a Clean Air Act enforcement action resulting in the entry of a consent decree and denial of intervention and defended an administrative action challenging that plant’s air permit.

Professional Involvement

Before joining Beveridge & Diamond, Heidi interned with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Enforcement Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and the Maryland Office of the Attorney General at the State Highway Administration. Earlier in her career, Heidi worked for an environmental consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Heidi is a frequent speaker on auditing and EHS issues. She is also an appointed member of the Northborough Cultural Council in Central Massachusetts, which works to promote the arts and help develop cultural and science programs throughout the Northborough community. She resides in a historic home in Central Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

617-419-2365