- A coalition of 60 organizations sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday urging his administration to take action on landfill emissions at COP28.
- The signatories call for the U.S. EPA to issue a rulemaking updating its New Source Performance Standards and Emissions Guidelines for landfills. The groups hope that after doing so, the agency can incorporate modern methane detection technology into its rules and require operators to install gas collection systems in landfills earlier to collect more methane.
- To maximize the change’s impact, the coalition wants U.S. officials to announce the open rulemaking at COP28 and put landfill emissions on the agenda. World leaders are preparing to discuss climate change-causing emissions at the summit and are expected to negotiate new greenhouse gas reduction commitments.
The coalition includes a mix of environmental and organics groups such as the Environmental Integrity Project, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Eco-Cycle.
In October, EPA published a pair of food waste reports that quantified the methane emissions from landfilled food waste for the first time and established new expectations for organic waste diversion.
The letter cited those reports to underscore the scale of the U.S. methane emissions challenge, noting one report’s conclusion that more than half of the methane from food waste is released into the atmosphere before most landfill operators install emissions capture systems.
"Acting expeditiously to strengthen landfill emission standards is a vital opportunity to address climate, air quality, and public health crises," the letter's authors write.
Biden has previously committed the U.S. to methane emissions reductions through the Global Methane Pledge, which sets a goal of reducing methane emissions at least 30% by 2030 from a 2020 baseline. Part of that pledge includes the launch of satellite tracking systems to detect major methane emission events, technology that the waste industry is exploring to detect and address methane plumes at landfills.
The Biden administration’s own methane plan includes a special focus on the waste industry, which is the country’s second largest industrial source of the pollutant. As part of that plan, EPA set a goal to ramp up its landfill methane outreach program to capture 70% of methane emissions from all landfills across the country.
The EPA is facing increasing pressure over its landfill emissions rules. Another letter sent in October and signed by local officials across the U.S. similarly called for updates to the rules and a road map to phase out the landfilling or incineration of organics by 2040. Many of those officials are expected to apply for funding announced by the EPA earlier this year for Climate Pollution Reduction Grants, which can go to local governments to address a range of climate initiatives, including reducing landfill methane emissions.