Pending Snowstorm; No In-Person Activities Sat, Jan. 29. Law Library will be closed. More info

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

November 27, 2018
Contact: Christopher Gray

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 14, 2018.

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/centers/state-impact.