Update: EPA Proposing Landfill Gas Capture Requirement in Some CasesUpdate: EPA Proposing Landfill Gas Capture Requirement in Some Cases
July 2, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a requirement for certain municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills to capture additional landfill gas as part of proposed updates to its landfill air standards.
(This story has been updated with comments from the National Waste & Recycling Association.)
In addition, the EPA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public input on whether and how to update current emissions guidelines for existing landfills to further reduce their emissions, including methane.
The EPA said the move, part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is because methane has a global warming potential 25 times that of carbon dioxide. “Reducing methane emissions is a powerful way to take action on climate change,” said Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This latest step from the President’s methane strategy builds on our progress to date and takes steps to cut emissions from landfills through common-sense standards.”
The 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, which is 13 percent more than required under current rules.
The EPA estimates the net nationwide annual costs of complying with the additional requirements in the proposed rule would total $471,000 in 2023.
“The National Waste & Recycling Association will carefully review the proposed regulation and the advanced notice of rulemaking during the next couple of months,” said Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of NW&RA. “We will provide comments to the agency that will promote lower emissions, but still be economically realistic and operationally practical to protect the business interests of our members.”
The EPA is proposing a new regulatory category with heightened rules that would apply to landfills that start construction, reconstruction or modification after they are published in the Federal Register. For landfills affected by these new regulations, the most significant change is to the emissions thresholds, the NW&RA said, which would require installing controls. Other proposed changes include clarifications to landfill gas treatment and to startup, shutdown, and malfunction procedures. Existing landfills would continue to be subject to existing regulations.
Methane accounts for nearly 9 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane in the country, accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2012, the EPA said. Regulatory and voluntary programs, including the agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), have helped reduce emissions from landfills by 30 percent from 1990 to 2012. However, without additional action, methane emissions are projected to increase through 2030.