Biden EPA to Review Landfill Emissions

Date: January 20, 2021

Source: News Room

In a recent executive order, President Biden called for a review of the EPA's Emissions Guidelines for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (EG). The regulation, first put forth in 2016, finalized new source performance standards (NSPS) to reduce emissions of methane-rich landfill gas from new, modified, and reconstructed municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills but has been stalled in court ever since. In a separate action, the agency issued revised guidelines for reducing emissions from existing MSW landfills. The new regulations updated standards and guidelines put into place in 1996. Both rules consider a well-designed and well-operated landfill gas collection-and-control system as the best system of emission reduction for controlling landfill gas.

Under the Trump administration, the EPA delayed the process of implementing the regulation and most states have yet to provide their own plans for meeting the emissions requirements. The order from President Biden signals that the EPA will no longer delay its own actions and that the window for states to delay creating their own emissions reduction plans may be tightening. The rule applies to over 1,900 active landfills across the U.S.

Waste management industry leaders have been mostly opposed to the new rule, citing that the new rules will bring uncertainty in terms of costs for landfills. However, climate change activists have long targeted landfills as areas in need of emissions reduction since landfills are major contributors to methane emissions, a particularly damaging greenhouse gas. This order from President Biden is merely the first step in a long process that the EPA will have to undertake to begin enforcing the emissions reductions it seeks from landfills.

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