EDF, Nine States Urge D.C. Circuit to Stop Trump EPA’s Unlawful Delay of Landfill Pollution Protections

August 13, 2020
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – August 13, 2020) Environmental Defense Fund and a coalition of nine states led by California have filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit forcefully arguing that the Trump administration’s latest attempt to avoid implementing protections against air pollution from landfills is unlawful and should be struck down.

EDF and the states of California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont filed their opening brief in the case last night.

“EPA has deployed a series of tactics to delay implementing the standards, without ever providing a valid reason for doing so,” the brief states. “Ultimately, EPA decided to simply ignore the deadlines, broadcasting to states and the regulated industry that there was no need to comply, and shrugging off its duty to act by telling this Court that the ‘deadlines have come and gone’ without any effort by the agency to meet them.” (Brief, page 1)

Landfills are the nation’s third-largest source of climate-destabilizing methane pollution. They also emit other hazardous pollutants like benzene, which causes cancer, and volatile organic compounds that cause smog.

As required by the Clean Air Act, EPA set standards in 2016 that would help protect millions of Americans from this harmful pollution. The standards required every state to have a plan in place to implement the standards by November 2017 or elect to be subject to a federal plan. However, for years the Trump EPA went to great lengths to avoid implementing the standards. Then in August 2019 the administration proposed a delay rule that would formally extend the deadlines in the 2016 standards.

In their brief for the D.C. Circuit, EDF and the states argue:

“EPA has ignored the purpose of the Clean Air Act, provided no valid justification for delaying these crucial protections, and put forward rationales that run directly contrary to the facts. The agency has also brushed aside evidence undermining its rationales and completely ignored the Delay Rule’s substantial adverse impacts, including environmental and public health impacts. This Court should vacate the Delay Rule and require EPA to implement these long-overdue protections.” (Brief, page 2)

In a separate lawsuit challenging the Trump EPA’s failure to meet its original deadlines, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has already ruled against EPA. That lawsuit, brought by many of the same parties, is currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.

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