Greenhouse Gas Update Raises Questions

A new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) federal requirement for reporting greenhouse gases (GHG) went into effect on Dec. 29, 2009, bringing confusion, but no money for implementation.

The rule requires reporting greenhouse gas emissions from large sources and suppliers in the United States, and is intended to collect accurate and timely emissions data to inform future policy decisions. However, EPA has halted implementation of these reporting requirements for manure management due to Congressional budget restrictions. As Angela Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University, explains in the most recent issue of the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) newsletter, the simple way to state the current status of this requirement is that the law is effective, but there is no money for implementation of reporting requirements during the fiscal year that runs from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010.

Budget allocations aside, the impact of the rule would depend upon the size of a livestock operation. Many facilities are below the animal population threshold. However, operations that have a facility housing an average annual animal population at or above 29,300 beef cattle, 3,200 dairy cattle, 34,100 pigs, 723,600 layers, 3,160,000 broilers or 7,710,000 turkeys are advised to start keeping records to determine if the emissions reporting threshold is being met. Rieck-Hinz says facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gas emissions per year are required to submit annual reports to EPA.

Manure Management sources are required to report under Subpart JJ of the law. The law requires emissions calculations begin Jan. 1, with the first reports due in March of 2010. Several confusing questions lack clear answers. “It is unclear at this time if reporting requirements would begin if budget constraints are lifted at the beginning of the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2011,” Rieck-Hinz says. It is unclear how EPA will address whether the reporting deadline will be extended if budget restraints are lifted and whether producers need to be recording calculations now for reporting in the future. Resources for learning more about the current status of GHG reporting include the EPA’s greenhouse gases rule Web page at, and an archived eXtension Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center webcast entitled, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimation and Reporting” at Visit the IMMAG Web page at