Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition in Suing EPA Over Failure to Enforce a Critical Landfill Methane Regulation

SACRAMENTO – Leading a coalition of eight Attorneys General and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to implement and 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 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. This is a violation of the Clean Air Act.

“For the second time this week, we are suing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. We will not turn a blind eye as he illegally refuses to implement this critical landfill methane regulation,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Climate change is the most important global environmental issue of our time. We must act to address it now for the sake of our children.”

“U.S. EPA is dragging its feet on rules that will help to make American communities more livable by reducing pollution,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “Landfills are the third largest source of manmade methane, which is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas.”

They can also emit a mix of toxic pollutants and, on top of that, smell bad when not properly controlled. These rules would help provide relief to surrounding neighborhoods. We simply want U.S. EPA to do the right thing here and take the steps to protect these neighborhoods.”

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:
    • 1.8 million passenger vehicles driven for one year or
    • 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 Becerra in filing today’s lawsuit are the Attorneys General of Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The California Air Resources Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection are also a part of the coalition.

Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has taken swift and broad action to hold the Trump Administration’s EPA accountable. Among other actions, Attorney General Becerra has sued the EPA over its illegal repeal of a longstanding policy that requires major sources of hazardous air pollutants – such as petroleum refineries and chemical plants – to permanently take action to reduce their emissions; filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failing to provide thirty-two categories of documents related to Administrator Pruitt’s known conflicts of interest and any actions taken by EPA or the Administrator to comply with federal ethics laws; and just yesterday, sued the EPA over its decision to suspend critical safeguards for agricultural workers.

A copy of the complaint is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra / Thursday, May 31, 2018

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