On March 21, a number of international, national, regional, and local environmental and nonprofit organizations, as well as several businesses, petitioned (Petition) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to institute a rulemaking to add dams and reservoirs as a source category under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP). The GHGRP requires reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) data and other relevant information from large GHG emission sources, such as fuel and industrial gas suppliers. Approximately 8,000 facilities are required to report their emissions annually, and the reported data are made available to the public in October of each year.

The Petition argues that dams and reservoirs are a source of emissions that should be reported to EPA. According to the Petition, dams and reservoirs trap organic material and leached synthetic fertilizers that decompose beneath a reservoir’s water, resulting in emissions, and emissions sources additionally include hydropower turbines, spillways, and downstream water discharges. The Petition argues that adding dams and reservoirs to the GHGRP would also result in better-informed climate policies at the federal, state, and local levels.

EPA has discretion whether to grant or deny the Petition. Beyond the Administrative Procedure Act providing general right to the public to petition for a rulemaking, there is not a requirement that EPA grant the petition and proceed with promulgating a regulation.