EPA Issues Final Landfill Methane Emissions Rules

by | Jul 15, 2016

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landfillThe EPA today released final standards for new and modified municipal solid waste landfills and emission guidelines for existing landfills.

Under the final rules, new, modified and existing landfills will begin capturing and controlling landfill gas emissions at levels that are one-third lower than current requirements, updating 20-year-old standards for existing landfills.

The EPA expects the final rules to reduce methane emissions by about 334,000 tons a year beginning in 2025. The agency puts the climate benefits of the combined rules at $512 million in 2025 or more than $8 for every dollar spent to comply.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide.

As landfill waste decomposes, it produces a number of pollutants, including air toxics, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, and methane. Municipal solid waste landfills are the second-largest industrial source of methane emissions in the US, accounting for 20 percent of methane emissions in 2014, according to the EPA.

Methane from landfills can be cost-effectively captured and used in place of other fossil fuels.

The agency originally proposed the updated landfill methane rules in July 2014 and August 2015.

The final rules update the 1996 guidelines for existing landfills.

In addition, the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program provides landfill owners and operators a suite of tools and technical resources to facilitate development of landfill gas energy projects. Over the last 20 years, LMOP-assisted projects have reduced and avoided more than 345 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Along with landfill methane emissions, the Obama Administration has been cracking down on methane emissions from oil and gas sources. In May, the EPA announced final regulations to limit these emissions.

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