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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2019
Contact: Christopher Gray
Christopher.Gray@nyu.edu
(929)-333-6213

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 29, 2019.

“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.