On Dec. 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is proposing actions under the greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program to address issues about the public availability of certain data that some businesses may consider to be confidential. The total emissions for each facility is still required to be reported to the EPA and released to the public.
In July 2010, the EPA proposed to determine that information included in emissions equations are “emissions data” and cannot be protected as confidential business information under the Clean Air Act. Under the proposed determination, the EPA would have to make these data available to the public once they are submitted to the agency.
In the new actions, the agency is soliciting comments from stakeholders seeking more specific information about claims of business sensitivity regarding inputs to emissions equations and proposing to defer the deadline for reporting that data until March 2014. The new information and reporting deferral would allow the EPA to assess the issue and make final decisions on how to treat the data elements in question. The proposals will not change the requirement that facilities retain these data so that the EPA may directly follow up with facilities through on-site audits.
The EPA is taking comment on the proposal to delay reporting of sensitive data for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, or 45 days if a hearing is requested, and is accepting comments in response to its request for information for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The EPA’s greenhouse gas reporting program, launched in October 2009, requires the reporting of GHG emissions data from large emission sources and fuel suppliers across a range of industry sectors. The data will help guide the development of programs to reduce these emissions.