The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has finished developing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions requirements for several industries as mandated by Congress, on Tuesday said it would extend the reporting deadline for companies reporting 2010 GHG data under the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule from March 31, 2011, to an unspecified date in late summer.

The agency’s GHG reporting program, which launched in October 2009, requires reporting of GHG emissions data from large emission sources and fuel suppliers across a range of industry sectors. The announced extension will allow the EPA to further test its online reporting platform, a “system that reporters will use to submit data, and give industry the opportunity to test the tool, provide feedback and have sufficient time to become familiar with it prior to reporting,” the agency said.

The extension also follows “conversations with industry and others,” the EPA said. According to Bracewell & Giulliani, a law firm whose clients include those in the energy industry, the decision will provide “welcomed relief” to reporting entities that have faced problems with the EPA’s system. Many others have been seeking technical clarifications from the agency to make certain that they are monitoring and calculating emissions properly, the firm said.

The Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule applies to direct GHG emitters, fossil fuel suppliers, and industrial gas suppliers. In general, the threshold for reporting is 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year. Reporting is at the facility level, except for certain suppliers of fossil fuels and industrial GHGs.

An estimated 85% to 90% of total U.S. GHG emissions from about 10,000 facilities are covered by the rule. Reports are submitted annually. The EPA is expected to verify the data submitted and will not require third-party verification. Prior to EPA verification, reporters will be required to self-certify the data they submit to the EPA.

More details will be provided on the intended changes in the coming weeks, the agency said.

Sources: POWERnews, EPA, Bracewell & Giulliani