On June 28, 2010, Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the final rule for Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases from Underground Coal Mines.  This rule amends the mandatory greenhouse gas reporting regulations that EPA issued last year (see September 24, 2009 issue of the WER).  Under this rule, owners or operators of underground coal mines are required to begin monitoring their greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011.  The first GHG emissions reports are due to EPA on March 31, 2012 and must be submitted annually thereafter.

All underground coal mines that are already subject to quarterly or more frequent sampling of mine ventilation systems by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) will be subject to these GHG monitoring and reporting requirements. 

EPA, however, withdrew its proposal that coal suppliers report the imputed CO2 emissions of their coal when it is combusted by end users to whom the coal is sold.  EPA determined that the emissions reports that end users of coal, principally electric generating stations, are required to submit to EPA are sufficient to determine emissions from coal. 

Mines must monitor and report their methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide emissions at both ventilation and degasification wells or shafts.  No threshold will be implemented for reporting of underground coal mines’ GHG emissions.  However, mines will not be required to measure or report fugitive or surface emissions, as EPA found that such a monitoring requirement would be too difficult and burdensome to implement.

Mines will be required to measure emissions amounts either by quarterly or more frequent sampling, or by continuous monitoring of flow rate and methane concentration.  Mines are now allowed, but not required, to use Continuous Emissions Monitors (“CEMs”) to measure emissions at both degasification and ventilations systems.  Additionally, facilities will be allowed to use CEMs to aggregate their degasification emissions sampling.  Mines may use CEMs to monitor methane emissions at points of aggregation, as long as emissions from all wells, shafts, and boreholes are addressed, and the methodology for calculating total emissions from all wells is documented.

A copy of the rule is available here