Coal Mines, Wastewater Systems, Landfills to Report Greenhouse Gas Emissions

WASHINGTON, DC, June 30, 2010 (ENS) – Four major categories of industrial facilities will have to report their emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases under a final rule issued for public comment Monday by the U.S. EPA.

The rule will bring underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities under the national mandatory greenhouse gas reporting program.

Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest of New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment systems (Photo by Victoria Belanger)

Methane is the primary greenhouse gas emitted from coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems and industrial landfills and this gas is more than 20 times as potent at warming the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

The main fluorinated greenhouse gas emitted from magnesium production is sulfur hexafluoride, which has a much greater warming potential than methane, and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Magnesium producers must also report emissions of other fluorinated gases such as the refrigerant gas HFC-134a and the fire suppressant gas FK 5-1-12, as well as emissions of carbon dioxide.

These four source categories will begin collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011, with the first annual reports submitted to EPA on March 31, 2012.

The EPA says that data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them, the agency said in a statement announcing the final rule.

Ethanol producers, food processors and suppliers of coal will not be required to report their greenhouse gas emissions at this time, the EPA has decided.

In a separate proposed rule, EPA is requesting public comment on which industry-related greenhouse gas information would be made publicly available and which would be considered confidential.

Under the Clean Air Act, all emission data are public. Some non-emission data, however, may be considered confidential, because it relates to specific information which, if made public, could harm a business’s competitiveness.

Examples of data considered confidential under this proposal include certain information reported by fossil fuel and industrial gas suppliers related to production quantities and raw materials.

EPA is committed to providing the public with as much information as possible while following the law.

The greenhouse gas reporting program requires suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases and large direct emitters of greenhouse gases to report to EPA.

Collecting this data will allow businesses to track emissions and identify cost effective ways to reduce emissions. EPA is preparing to provide data to the public after the first annual greenhouse gas reports are submitted in March 2011.

There will be a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rules that will begin upon publication in the Federal Register.

Click here for more information on the final rule to add reporting requirements for underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities.

Click here for more information on the proposal on data confidentiality.

In April, the EPA required reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from onshore petroleum and natural gas production, offshore petroleum and natural gas production, natural gas processing, natural gas transmission compressor stations, underground natural gas storage, liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage, LNG import and export terminals, and distribution.

Also in April, the EPA required reporting of emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from electronics manufacturing, from the production of fluorinated gases, and from the use of electrical transmission and distribution equipment.

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