Press Release

9 AGs Oppose EPA’s Proposal to Further Delay Enforcement of Methane Emissions Standards for Municipal Landfills

Landfills are the third largest source of U.S. methane emissions, a major climate pollutant that also contributes to asthma and other respiratory diseases

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.— Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra led a mul­ti-state coali­tion of nine attor­neys gen­er­al in sub­mit­ting com­ments today strong­ly oppos­ing the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA)’s pro­posed rule allow­ing states to delay devel­op­ing enforce­ment plans for 2016 Emis­sion Guide­lines and Com­pli­ance Times for Munic­i­pal Sol­id Waste Land­fills. State plans were orig­i­nal­ly due on May 30, 2017, and the EPA’s pro­posed rule would extend the states’ dead­line until August 292019.

We demand that EPA Act­ing Admin­is­tra­tor Wheel­er with­draw this unlaw­ful pro­pos­al and imme­di­ate­ly imple­ment mea­sures that are on the books to reduce harm­ful methane emis­sions and that already should have been imple­ment­ed,” said Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra. This out­ra­geous pro­pos­al flies in the face of the mis­sion of the EPA to pro­tect pub­lic health and the environment.”

Methane is a pow­er­ful green­house gas with a hun­dred-year impact 28 – 36 times that of car­bon diox­ide. Munic­i­pal land­fills are the third largest source of human-relat­ed methane emis­sions nation­al­ly. EPA’s fail­ure to enforce exist­ing dead­lines for restrict­ing methane emis­sions from land­fills is enabling the con­tin­ued, unre­strict­ed release of 330,000 tons of methane per year.

The EPA can­not duck its oblig­a­tion under the Clean Air Act to restrict the sub­stan­tial methane emis­sions that land­fills all around the Unit­ed States are pro­duc­ing, to the detri­ment of our cli­mate, and human health,” said David J. Hayes, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter. The EPA’s attempt to push off already-missed methane reduc­tion dead­lines for an addi­tion­al two years is a lame, amoral effort to cov­er up its vio­la­tion of the law, and to side­step the enforce­ment action that Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra has brought against the Agency.”

In addi­tion to Cal­i­for­nia, attor­neys gen­er­al for Illi­nois, Mary­land, New Jer­sey, New Mex­i­co, Ore­gon, Penn­syl­va­nia, Rhode Island, and Ver­mont joined the mul­ti-state coalition.

BACK­GROUND

In Octo­ber 2016, EPA issued a final rule to reduce methane emis­sions from munic­i­pal land­fills. The reg­u­la­tion took effect in Octo­ber 2016. It required that states sub­mit plans to imple­ment the reg­u­la­tions and that EPA, in turn, (1) respond by Sep­tem­ber 30, 2017 to states that time­ly sub­mit­ted plans to imple­ment the reg­u­la­tion; and (2) impose fed­er­al plans on non-com­ply­ing states by Novem­ber 30, 2017. The EPA has missed both of these deadlines.

In May 2018, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra and attor­neys gen­er­al from sev­en oth­er states filed a law­suit to com­pel EPA to enforce the Octo­ber 2016 rule and its already-passed deadlines.

In Octo­ber 2018, EPA pub­lished a pro­posed rule that would push back the dead­line for states to sub­mit their plans to com­ply with the Octo­ber 2016 rule by two years. On Decem­ber 21, 2018, the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the North­ern Dis­trict of Cal­i­for­nia denied the EPA’s motion to stay pro­ceed­ings until April 30, 2019, allow­ing the case to proceed.

ABOUT THE STATE ENER­GY & ENVI­RON­MEN­TAL IMPACT CEN­TER
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 our web­site.