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EPA Seeks to Reduce Landfills’ Methane Emissions

landfillThe EPA has proposed updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste landfills that would require certain landfills to capture additional landfill gas, which would reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The agency also is seeking public feedback on how and whether to update guidelines for existing landfills.

The updates are part of the President Obama’s Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions. Methane has a global warming potential 25 times that of carbon dioxide.

The EPA’s proposal would require new MSW landfills subject to the rule to begin controlling landfill gas at a lower emissions threshold than currently required. Under the proposal, landfills would capture two-thirds of their methane and air toxics emissions by 2023 — 13 percent more than required under current rules. The agency estimates the net nationwide annual costs of complying with the additional requirements in the proposed rule would be $471,000 in 2023.

Today, methane accounts for nearly 9 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane in the country, accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2012. Regulatory and voluntary programs, including the agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, have helped reduce emissions from landfills by 30 percent from 1990 to 2012. However, without additional actions, methane emissions are projected to increase through 2030, the EPA says.

Photo Credit: truck working in landfill via Shutterstock

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