Municipal Solid Waste Landfill New Source Performance Standards and Emissions Guidelines

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following. If you’re a reporter and would like to speak with an expert on this rule please email us.

Why it Matters

When the waste in landfills decomposes, methane, carbon dioxide, and other often toxic gases are released. These rules require emissions reductions from municipal landfills, targeting the powerful greenhouse gas methane.

Current Status

The challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) delay of the New Source Performance Standards deadlines while it reconsidered the rule was dismissed on February 1, 2018.

However, eight attorneys general filed suit against EPA for its failure to enforce the 2016 Emissions Guidelines for existing municipal and solid waste landfills on May 31, 2018. Environmental groups are also poised to sue for failing to implement and enforce the Emissions Guidelines and compliance times. On June 20, 2018 the Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council sent a 60 day notice of intent to sue to EPA. On September 13, 2018 EDF filed a motion to intervene in the case. The intervention motion as well as EPA’s motion to dismiss the case remain pending. EPA also filed a notice with the court on October 23, 2018 that Wheeler had signed a proposed rule that would adjust the compliance schedule for the 2016 emissions guidelines.

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History

On August 29, 2016 EPA finalized two rules targeting methane emissions from new and existing landfills (the New Source Performance Standards and Emissions Guidelines, respectively). They were scheduled to go into effect on October 28, 2016.

Industry petitioned EPA for reconsideration on October 27, 2016.

Trump Era

On May 5, 2017 Administrator Pruitt sent a letter to industry, announcing that EPA would reconsider several aspects of the landfill rules.

On May 31, 2017 EPA published its decision to reconsider several issues in the landfill rules and to delay the rules for 90 days.

On June 16, 2017 environmental groups sued EPA over the 90-day delayNRDC et al. v. EPA, No. 17-1157 (D.C. Cir.).

On August 4, 2017 the environmental groups asked the court to vacate EPA’s administrative stay of the landfill rule. – NRDC, et al. v. EPA, No. 17-1157 (D.C. Cir.).

On September 28, 2017 the court denied the environmental groups’ request to vacate the stay. Since the 90-day delay was over at that time, the rules should have been in effect. Therefore, the court ordered parties to submit briefs on “whether the lawsuit is now moot.” – NRDC, et al. v. EPA, No. 17-1157 (D.C. Cir.).

The petitioners brief, submitted on November 20, 2017, can be found here. EPA’s response brief, was filed on January 22, 2018. NRDC, et al. v. EPA, No. 17-1157 (D.C. Cir.).

On February 1, 2018 the D.C. Circuit granted plaintiffs’ request to voluntarily dismiss its petition. Plaintiffs dismissed the case after EPA clarified that its stay did not affect any deadlines outside of the 90-day delay period.– NRDC, et al. v. EPA, No. 17-1157 (D.C. Cir.).

On March 23, 2018 seven state attorneys general notified EPA they would sue in 60 days over its failure to enforce the 2016 Emissions Guidelines for existing municipal and solid waste landfills.

On May 31, 2018 eight attorneys general filed suit against EPA for its failure to enforce the 2016 Emissions Guidelines for existing municipal and solid waste landfills. The AGs of California, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont argued EPA has failed to fulfill its duty to implement and enforce the emission guidelines. They ask the court to declare that EPA violated the Clean Air Act and require EPA to implement and enforce the guidelines. – California, et al. v. EPA, No. 4:18-cv-03237 (N.D.Cal.).

On June 20, 2018 the Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council sent a 60 day notice of intent to sue to EPA for failing to implement or enforce the Emissions Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills issued on August 29, 2016.

On September 13, 2018, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a motion to intervene in the state AGs’ suit against EPA for failing to publish emissions guidelines. EPA argued in a September 27, 2018 filing opposing EDF’s request to join the case that the court should reject it because EDF’s claims are adequately represented by the states in the case. An EPA motion to dismiss this case remains pending and the agency filed its final reply urging dismissal on October 11, 2018. – California, et al. v. EPA, No. 4:18-cv-03237 (N.D.Cal.).

On October 23, 2018, EPA notified the court in the AGs’ suit that Acting Administrator Wheeler signed a proposed rule that would amend the deadlines in the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. The proposal would result in extending the deadlines for states to submit plans to August 29, 2019. EPA would then have 6 months to review the plans for completeness and then another 12 months after that to   consider whether to approve the plan. This new timing would align the deadlines with EPA’s ACE proposal. – California, et al. v. EPA, No. 4:18-cv-03237 (N.D.Cal.).

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