US petchems, refiners welcome EPA delay of GHG reporting

01 March 2011 22:35  [Source: ICIS news]

Greenhouse gas emissionsWASHINGTON (ICIS)--US petrochemical, chemical and refining interests on Tuesday welcomed a federal government decision to postpone the 31 March deadline for industrial reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said earlier on Tuesday that it would put back the original 31 March reporting deadline to an unspecified date in mid-2011.

Under the agency’s May 2010 reporting mandate, large emitters of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) - basically industrial sites, manufacturers such as chemical plants and refiners - were to begin reporting the volume of their GHG emissions beginning the end of this month.

EPA said it was putting the deadline back so that it could further test the online reporting system that would be used by industry.  The agency said that it would announce a new deadline later this year.

“This extension will allow EPA to further test the system that facilities will use to submit data and give industry the opportunity to test the tool, provide feedback, and have sufficient time to become familiar with the tool prior to reporting,” the agency said.

American Chemistry Council (ACC) President Cal Dooley welcomed the delay. “Reporting done right requires a thorough understanding of the new rules, ample time for feedback and sufficient testing to ensure a high-quality database,” he said.

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) also hailed the delay, saying it was “a sensible step”.

“Taking a little extra time to get this programme right makes more sense than rushing to meet an artificial and inflexible deadline,” said Charles Drevna, the association’s president.

Dooley noted that member companies of the ACC already report GHG emissions to the trade group, which in turn publishes the cumulative greenhouse gas totals.

That data, he said, showed that “our industry’s absolute GHG emissions fell 23% between 1990 and 2009, far exceeding Kyoto Protocol requirements”.

Drevna said that his group’s refiners and petrochemical producers have been working for several years to develop an accurate greenhouse gas database for their facilities.

The EPA’s greenhouse gas reporting requirements are separate from GHG emissions restrictions the agency has begun to impose on process industries, electric utilities and other major production facilities.

Those regulations, which came into force at the first of this year, are being challenged in multiple federal lawsuits filed by industry, business interests and several state governments.  They also are the target of legislation in Congress that would revoke entirely EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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