A major interstate natural gas pipeline association has filed a petition in federal court challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule mandating the reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) called on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the agency rule that required oil and natural gas facilities to begin collecting data on GHG emissions early this year. They are due to file their first annual reports with EPA in March.

The American Gas Association and Chesapeake Energy Corp. also sued the EPA over the emission reporting rule, Greenwire reported. In addition, INGAA asked the EPA to reconsider its final rule.

“It is imperative that EPA address unclear, confusing, overly complicated or conflicting requirements associated with emission sources, emission estimation methods and reporting requirements” in the final rule, INGAA told the agency.

Most of INGAA’s concerns are centered on regulations that allow operators to compute GHG emissions using “best alternative monitoring methods” (BAMM). “The BAMM regulations were not part of [the] proposed rule, and there was not reasonable basis for INGAA to anticipate their issuance,” the pipeline group said.

BAMM requests may be approved by the EPA if operators encounter problems with installation of actual monitoring equipment, calibration of monitoring equipment, training of personnel, safety concerns and accessibility concerns related to installing necessary equipment.

“Both the legal requirements commonly applicable to interstate natural gas transmission, and the basic design of compressor station equipment, buildings and grounds, pose significant and long-term safety, technical and legal barriers to obtaining the data necessary to calculate GHG emissions per the procedures” prescribed in the EPA reporting rule, the pipeline group said.

As a result, many pipeline operators “will be requesting approval to use BAMM during 2011, 2012 and beyond,” INGAA said.

Parties seeking to use BAMM in 2011 must file by April 30, while those seeking to use BAMM in 2012 and beyond must file by Sept. 30, according to INGAA. However, the pipeline group contends that there is a “confusing disconnect” between the BAMM requests due April 30 and those due Dept. 30, and it urged the EPA to clear up the matter.

“The first point of confusion concerns time and eligibility assessment [for BAMM]. Reporters [of GHG emissions] will not have time to assess whether all of their facilities qualify for BAMM by this April 30th, yet the final rule requires that a request must be filed by April 30th for every facility where BAMM will be sought for 2011,” INGAA said.

“EPA suggested that for these facilities reporters should submit a modified April 30th request that would serve as notice of potential BAMM eligibility — in effect, a placeholder — to be supplemented by the Sept. 30 request or other subsequent filing…A separate source of confusion confronts reporters who seek to apply BAMM seamlessly in 2011, 2012 and beyond,” it noted.

“INGAA urges EPA to reconsider the final rule to address this problem. The content requirements and approval criteria [for BAMM] for the April 30th and Sept. 30 requests should be expanded, or a separate class of these requests should be created to accommodate cases where BAMM will be requested for 2012 and beyond,” INGAA said.

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