Press Release

David J. Hayes: EPA’s Delay of Compliance Requirements for Landfill Emission Rule is Morally and Legally Indefensible

David J. Hayes released the following statement in response to today’s public hearing on EPA’s proposal to delay the implementation of emissions guidelines for methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.David J. Hayes, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter at NYU School of Law and for­mer Inte­ri­or Deputy Sec­re­tary in the Oba­ma and Clin­ton Admin­is­tra­tions, released the fol­low­ing state­ment in response to today’s pub­lic hear­ing on the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s pro­pos­al to delay the imple­men­ta­tion of emis­sions guide­lines for methane emis­sions from munic­i­pal sol­id waste landfills.

The Fourth Nation­al Cli­mate Assess­ment makes it absolute­ly clear that cli­mate change is real, that peo­ple in every region of the Unit­ed States are already expe­ri­enc­ing its dev­as­tat­ing impacts, and that there is no time to delay nec­es­sary action to curb its worst impacts. Methane is one of the most pow­er­ful and dan­ger­ous green­house gas­es, with a cli­mate change impact that is more than 30 times that of car­bon diox­ide over a hun­dred-year timeframe. 

The EPA’s fail­ure to enforce legal­ly-bind­ing require­ments to address methane releas­es from munic­i­pal land­fills – the third largest source for methane emis­sions in the U.S. – is inex­cus­able. Its retroac­tive attempt to avoid its enforce­ment oblig­a­tions and put off land­fill methane com­pli­ance require­ments for anoth­er two years is both moral­ly and legal­ly inde­fen­si­ble. The Trump Admin­is­tra­tion is once again flout­ing the law, pre­tend­ing that cli­mate change does not exist, and allow­ing the con­tin­ued vent­ing of dan­ger­ous, cli­mate-caus­ing green­house emis­sions into the atmos­phere with­out restriction.”

In August 2016, the EPA final­ized its Emis­sion Guide­lines and Com­pli­ance Times for Munic­i­pal Sol­id Waste Land­fills rule requir­ing states to devel­op plans to restrict methane emis­sions from land­fills, with the EPA required to step in and reg­u­late emis­sions if the states did not com­plete their plans on time. State plans were due on May 30, 2017. Only Cal­i­for­nia filed a state plan on a time­ly basis. Despite states’ non-com­pli­ance, the EPA failed to pro­duce and impose a fed­er­al plan on non­com­ply­ing states. In May 2018, Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra filed suit against the EPA for fail­ing to enforce the law. Rather than accept its enforce­ment respon­si­bil­i­ty, the EPA released a pro­posed rule on Octo­ber 30, 2018 to retroac­tive­ly extend the dead­line for state plan sub­mis­sions until August 29, 2019. The EPA held a hear­ing today on the pro­posed rule; writ­ten com­ments are due on Decem­ber 142018.

The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter is a non-par­ti­san Cen­ter at the NYU School of Law that is ded­i­cat­ed to work­ing with state attor­neys gen­er­al to pro­tect and advance clean ener­gy, cli­mate change, and envi­ron­men­tal val­ues and pro­tec­tions. It was launched in August 2017 with sup­port from Bloomberg Phil­an­thropies. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it http://​www​.law​.nyu​.edu/​c​e​n​t​e​r​s​/​s​t​a​t​e​-​i​mpact.