Oil, Natural Gas Sectors May Have to Report GHG Emissions

The oil and natural gas sector as well as facilities involved in carbon sequestration may be added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's national mandatory greenhouse gas reporting system.

The agency is proposing the following sectors be added:

  • The oil and natural gas sector,
  • industries that emit fluorinated gases, and
  • Facilities that inject and store carbon dioxide (CO2) underground for 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. 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 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.

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 mandatory GHG 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.

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

Under these proposals, newly covered sources would begin collecting emissions data on Jan. 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 in Arlington, Va. and April 20, in Washington, D.C.