- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a speech this week that national methane emissions are greater than originally thought. "The bottom line is - the data confirms that we can and must do more on methane," she said, as reported in Environmental Leader.
- The Obama Administration said that methane emissions — which are 25-times more potent than carbon dioxide — comprised nearly 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. The EPA says levels are expected to rise by 25% by 2025 unless action is taken to reduce them.
- The EPA has targeted oil and gas producers as the main sources of the emissions, and has proposed to require such producers to cut emissions by as much as 45% by 2025.
While the oil and gas sector has been spotlighted as the main stakeholders in this matter, the waste industry does not fall far behind with hundreds of thousands of tons of methane emissions being released from landfills each year. In August, the EPA issued two proposals under Obama's Climate Actoin Plan for landfills: one to update the 1996 Emissions Guidelines for existing MSW landfills, and the other to reduce emissions from new and modified landfills. The combined proposals are expected to eventually reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year, beginning in 2025.
Until then, steps need to be taken to reduce methane emissions, starting with diverting organic waste. Efforts to keep food and yard waste out of landfills help to keep methane emissions low, while providing other economic benefits such as organic compost. States like California have pushed recycling regulations such as composting and anaerobic digestion requirements to assist in these efforts.
Regarding the EPA's actions on methane emissions, McCarthy said, "...The proposed standards are cost effective by design – they’re built to reduce pollution that’s fueling climate change while supporting responsible energy development at the same time," according to Environmental Leader.