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White House Reviewing EPA's Methane Standards for New, Existing Landfills
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On June 22, EPA sent proposed rules that could set new methane emissions limits for municipal landfills to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review.  In 2014, EPA proposed revisions to the performance standards for landfills as well as an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to update the emissions guidelines for existing landfills.  The proposed limits for new landfills would require operators to capture two-thirds of their methane and air toxics emissions by 2023.  EPA’s proposal to better regulate methane from landfills is part of the administration’s strategy to curb emissions of the pollutant.  The strategy directs EPA to also regulate methane from other industrial sources such as oil and gas wells.


As part of its ANPR to consider revisions to the emissions guidelines for existing landfills, EPA solicited input on whether it should directly regulate methane from those facilities or whether it should continue to regulate “landfill gas,” which can contain methane, carbon dioxide and nonmethane organic compounds.  The ANPR for existing landfills also sought input on whether it should change the regulatory framework for existing sources, including altering landfill size thresholds and “lag time” for compliance, and on specific technologies to reduce methane.  EPA has not updated emissions standards for existing landfills since 1996. 


The final performance standards for new landfills were expected to be issued in May, as part of a legal settlement with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that required the agency to establish the rules.  In late April, EDF and EPA extended the deadlines to comply with the settlement to July 16.  The proposed revisions to the emissions guidelines for existing facilities is expected in August.  Nearly 1,000 municipal solid waste landfills in the U.S. are subject to the separate rules for existing or new landfills, according to the agency.

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