Joining a coalition of seven attorneys general, the California Air Resources Board, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today submitted a 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) failure to enforce a critical landfill methane regulation.
The regulation at issue – known formally as the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills – reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, carbon dioxide, and methane. It went into effect on October 28, 2016, but the EPA has not enforced it. Instead, with no legal basis for delaying implementation and enforcement of the regulation, the EPA stated that it intends to complete a reconsideration of the regulation by Spring 2020. This is a blatant violation of the Clean Air Act.
"Time and again, the EPA has failed to properly implement rules that protect the air we breathe," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "And, each time it has been attorneys general who have held the EPA and Administrator Pruitt accountable, and we will continue to do so using every available legal avenue."
Landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 18.2 percent of national emissions in 2015. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate all categories of stationary sources – such as landfills – that cause or contribute significantly to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. The regulation at issue would lead to numerous public health and environmental benefits, including:
• Preventing 7.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, which translates to: o 1.6 million passenger vehicles driven for one year. o 1.1 million homes' electricity use for one year. • Protecting against asthma and other respiratory diseases, especially among the country's most vulnerable populations—its youngest and oldest residents. • Protecting against cancer-causing hazardous air pollutants.
Joining Attorney General Kilmartin in sending today's 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue are the Attorneys General of California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont. The California Air Resources Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection are also a part of the coalition.