Multi-state coalition demands EPA withdraw proposed delay of landfill emissions regulations
- A California-led multi-state coalition has filed comments demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency withdraw its proposal to further delay an Obama-era regulation aimed at reducing landfill emissions.
- In a Jan. 4 letter to Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and eight other state attorneys general point out that EPA is already a year overdue in implementing the Municipal Solid Waste Landfills Emission Guidelines (EG), which went into effect on October 28, 2016. The agency's proposed rule delay would extend its regulation enforcement deadline to March 2023 — more than six years past the original 2017 deadline.
- "The proposed Delay Rule is … arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by law," the letter argues, calling upon EPA to "withdraw the proposal and comply with its mandatory and long-overdue duty to implement the Guidelines immediately."
U.S. landfills currently contribute methane emissions equivalent to more than 7.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year — "the annual equivalent of the GHGs emitted by more than 1.5 million cars," the letter notes — and the EG rule, which mandates large-scale reductions of both methane and smog-forming, non-methane organic compounds, was touted by EPA as a significant step toward environmental progress when issued in 2016.
Under the Trump administration, however, EPA has failed to implement and enforce the regulation. Instead, the agency issued a temporary stay on both the EG and New Source Performance Standards in 2017 and announced in early 2018 its intent to reevaluate and revise the guidelines — prompting a lawsuit from an eight-state coalition.
The letter — undersigned by state attorneys general representing California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont — represents the latest multi-state strike against the agency’s delay rule. EPA’s proposal, the attorneys general argue, violates the Clean Air Act, fails to justify a four-year delay, and provides no analysis of its supposed benefits and costs.
On the other hand, the letter notes, both the environmental and economic costs of further delays are clear: "By delaying implementation of the Guidelines another four years, EPA is forfeiting reductions of tens of millions of metric tons of GHG emissions and at least $1.5 billion in net benefits."
The coalition, led by Becerra and the California Air Resources Board, further excoriates EPA for proposing the delay "at a time when there is overwhelming and ever-growing evidence of the need for immediate reductions of GHG emissions."
"The sobering findings set forth in [multiple climate assessment reports] should serve as a call to action to EPA and all other governmental entities to expedite measures to reduce GHG emissions," declares the letter. "Instead, EPA — arguably the single most important government actor in this area, with significant authority, ability, and expertise to meaningfully address this issue — here proposes to delay until March 2023 implementing regulations that would not only achieve meaningful, near-term reductions, but that should already have been implemented."
While a recent court ruling rejected EPA’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, multiple states have yet to submit compliance plans. In the meantime, the agency will continue to work on revising the emissions regulation — a process, according to EPA, that will be complete by spring of this year.
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