- A group of more than 50 local elected officials is calling on the U.S. EPA to begin updating the agency’s landfill emissions monitoring standards and support their efforts to phase organics out of landfills and incinerators by 2040.
- In an open letter sent Tuesday and signed by the mayors of Minneapolis, Seattle and more, the officials said that local governments and states are making progress on reducing methane emissions from landfills, but their efforts alone are not enough.
- “Without fast action on methane, local governments will increasingly face the impacts of warming temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather events,” the officials wrote. “Curbing landfill methane must be a part of our national climate strategy, and we urge the EPA to act now.”
Landfill owners and operators have become increasingly strident in their calls for an update to the way the EPA measures and tracks landfill emissions. That’s especially true for landfill methane, which is produced by decomposing organics and comprises a large share of the overall methane emissions inventory in the U.S.
The letter sent on Tuesday comes as the federal government has begun to increase funding for state and local governments looking to address methane and the organics that generate it in landfills. That includes the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program, which has funded climate action plans by those governments which now need to be implemented.
“When it comes to steps federal regulators can take to swiftly and equitably reduce pollution across the United States, landfill emissions reduction is a straightforward solution,” Meghan Pazik, policy director for Climate Mayors, said in a statement accompanying the letter. “By updating and strengthening landfill emissions rules, the EPA can deliver on its environmental justice commitments and promote a massive reduction in climate-warming emissions.”
The officials are urging EPA to develop and implement a roadmap to end the landfilling or incineration of organics by 2040. To get there, they're asking for expanded grant funding and technical assistance for states and local governments, whose control of waste management varies by jurisdiction.
The signatories also want EPA to immediately open a rulemaking to update MSW landfill emission standards, citing the emergence of new strategies and technology that can better prevent, detect and mitigate methane leaks than than current EPA requirements. They say that by updating the rules, the EPA can receive and synthesize feedback to create a new standard that can better control harmful emissions.