EPA’s Proposed Standards to Reduce Methane and Other Air Pollutants from Landfills an Important Step in Protecting Public Health and the Environment

August 14, 2015
Shira Silver, (202) 572-3254, ssilver@edf.org


Today EPA proposed long-overdue revisions to national emission standards for new and existing municipal solid waste landfills that are expected to reduce methane and other harmful air pollution from these facilities. Landfills are our nation’s third largest source of methane, a potent, climate-destabilizing pollutant more than 80 times as powerful as carbon dioxide over the first twenty years after it is emitted.

“Common-sense, highly-cost effective opportunities are available to reduce landfill methane emissions and protect public health,” said Peter Zalzal, senior attorney at EDF. “Landfills are a major source of potent methane emissions and proven best practices can readily be deployed to reduce these harmful emissions.”

EPA estimates that the proposed standards would reduce methane emissions by over 400,000 metric tons. The proposal updates standards that were last changed in 1996 and would achieve these reductions primarily by expanding the application of landfill gas capture. In addition to these improvements, landfills can reduce emissions by deploying capture technologies at the outset of the landfills life, ensuring rigorous surface monitoring, and adopting best management practices related to landfill cover. To protect public health and the environment, EPA’s final standards should be strengthened to reflect these important opportunities.

Leading landfill operators and industry experts are already identifying and implementing a number of solutions for achieving reductions in landfill emissions. The state of California adopted best management emission standards for landfill methane in 2009 that incentivize landfills to deploy many of these best practices, and require rigorous monitoring and remediation of gas leaks from the surface of the landfill. California’s clean air measures have been working to cost-effectively reduce harmful methane pollution.

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