Proposed EPA Action Would Affect Enhanced Oil, Gas Recovery

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to include additional emissions sources in its first-ever national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting system. EPA contends the data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce emissions.

"Gathering this information is the first step toward reducing greenhouse emissions and fostering innovative technologies for the clean energy future," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "It's especially important to track potent gases like methane, which traps more than 20 times as much heat as carbon and accelerates climate change. Once we know where we must act, American innovators and entrepreneurs can develop new technologies to protect our atmosphere and fight climate change."

EPA finalized the first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas reporting requirement in October of 2009. That rule required 31 industry sectors, covering 85 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, to track and report their emissions.

In addition to those 31 industries, the agency is now proposing to collect emissions data from the oil and natural gas sector, industries that emit fluorinated gases, and from facilities that inject and store carbon dioxide (CO2) underground for the purposes of geologic sequestration or enhanced oil and gas recovery. Methane is the primary GHG emitted from oil and natural gas systems and is more than 20 times as potent as CO2 at warming the atmosphere, while fluorinated gases are even stronger and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years, the EPA stated. Data collected from facilities that inject CO2 underground would enable EPA to track the amount of CO2 that is injected and in some cases require a monitoring strategy for detecting potential emissions to the atmosphere.

The data reportedly will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, compare them to similar facilities, and identify cost effective ways to reduce their emissions in the future.

EPA is also proposing to require all facilities in the reporting system, including those proposed Tuesday, to provide information on their corporate ownership.

Under these proposals, newly covered sources would begin collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011 with the first annual reports submitted to EPA on March 31, 2012. These proposals will be open for public comment for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The agency will also hold public hearings on these proposals on April 19, 2010 in Arlington, Va. and April 20, 2010 in Washington, D.C.



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