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Changes to the Mandatory GHG Reporting Rule and IVT Sandbox Testing (Yes, More Acronyms)

Posted: December 3rd, 2014

Author: All4 Staff 

On October 24, 2014, U.S. EPA finalized revisions to the reporting requirements, recordkeeping requirements, and confidentiality determinations of the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Rule (i.e., 40 CFR Part 98).  The October 24, 2014 revisions include new data verification procedures that address industry’s long-standing Confidential Business Information (CBI) concerns.  If you’ll recall, reporters have long been concerned that the rule included provisions requiring the reporting of facility-specific process or production data (inputs to equations) that reporters felt could be regarded as business-sensitive information.  In order to evaluate these concerns and whether the inputs to equations did in fact constitute CBI, U.S. EPA deferred the reporting deadlines for many inputs to emission equations to either March 31, 2013 or March 31, 2015.  The deadline varied per input to equation and afforded U.S. EPA the time it needed to fully evaluate the potential impact of releasing CBI to the public.

Last year, U.S. EPA completed their evaluation of the first set of equation inputs and determined that they did not constitute CBI.  Once this determination was made, facilities reporting under certain subparts were required to report inputs to equations that had been historically deferred for the 2010 and 2011 reporting years.  U.S. EPA has just completed their second evaluation and will be collecting data this year much like they did during 2013 for the remaining historic inputs to equations that were recently determined not to be CBI.

So what about the data inputs that were determined to be CBI?  U.S. EPA has finalized an alternative electronic verification approach that at once (1) allows U.S. EPA to validate information submitted by facilities but (2) protect the confidentiality of inputs to equations for reporters.  The data will be kept as records by reporters, rather than be reported to U.S. EPA.

The new data verification procedure is being implemented as an Inputs Verification Tool (IVT) within U.S. EPA’s electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool (e-GGRT).  The IVT will (1) protect the confidentiality of inputs to equations for reporters and (2) allow U.S. EPA to verify emissions and ensure compliance with the reporting program.  Two birds with one stone!  As indicated in Table 2 of Vol. 79, No. 206, of the Federal Register, most reporters will be required to use the IVT.  However, certain Subpart C (General Stationary Fuel Combustion Sources) reporters will have the option to either use the IVT or report their inputs to equations to U.S. EPA.  Choosing to actually report the inputs will waive a Subpart C reporter’s right to a confidentiality claim.  

U.S. EPA is currently hosting “sandbox testing” of the IVT and details concerning how interested parties can get involved in this sandbox testing can be found here.  Deadlines for submitting feedback to U.S. EPA varies per subpart.  The November 17, 2014 deadline pertaining to many subparts has just passed but those reporting under Subparts E, F, O, R, V, and Y can still jump in before December 6, 2014, and those reporting under Subparts C and Y (specific to the XML file type) have the ability to submit comments through December 22, 2014.  

ALL4 is gearing up to assist our clients with the enhanced reporting that will be required in the upcoming GHG reporting season.  If you are actively involved in GHG reporting and are unsure how your upcoming reporting will be impacted by these rule revisions, please give us a call to discuss!


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