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Rhode Island Joins Coalition in Suing EPA Over Failure to Enforce a Critical Landfill Methane Regulation

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined a coalition of seven Attorneys General and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to implement and enforce a critical landfill methane regulation. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) led the coalition in filing the lawsuit.

The regulation at issue – known formally as the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills – reduces landfill 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 implemented or 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. The lawsuit alleges this is a violation of the Clean Air Act.

"While municipal landfills are an obvious necessity to our society's infrastructure, it is still vitally important to continue to work on reducing emissions that can impact public health. As I vowed back in March, if the EPA and Administrator Pruitt fail to properly implement rules designed to protect the air we breathe, it is time to pursue a legal action that does so," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.

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 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 8.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, which translates to: o 1.8 million passenger vehicles driven for one year or o 1.1 million homes' electricity use for one year. • Protecting against pollutants that cause 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 filing today's lawsuit are the Attorneys General of California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The California Air Resources Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection are also a part of the coalition.

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