Federal District Court Orders EPA to Enforce Methane Reduction Requirements on Landfills

An article in The Hill (2019-05-07) reported that the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must being enforcing mandatory methane-reduction requirements for landfills. The regulations, enacted under the former administration of President Barack Obama were put on hold pending a review under the administration of President Donald Trump.

The case was brought by California and seven other states, including Maryland, after EPA twice delayed implementation of the Obama-era regulations. District Judge Haywood Gilliam sided with the states and granted a partial summary judgment that ordered EPA to begin reviewing state methane reduction plans for landfills and enacting regulatory requirements.

Landfills are among the top three man-made sources of methane (the other two being fossil fuel production and use and agriculture). Methane is a “greenhouse gas” that traps heat and contributes to climate change.

From the article:

Gilliam said the EPA was long overdue in meeting its obligations and ordered the agency to review state proposals and begin promulgating regulations by fall.

“Once again, we’ve held the EPA accountable for its failure to perform its mandatory duties under the Clean Air Act, and for its unwillingness to protect public health,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said in a statement. “We celebrate this ruling requiring EPA to fulfill its long-overdue mandatory duties to control emissions from landfills.”

An EPA spokesman said they would review the decision.

Gilliam denied an additional plaintiff request requiring EPA to respond to any future plans submitted by the states within two months. Gilliam found that states could only challenge actual EPA actions or failures to act and not challenge a speculative and prospective lapse by EPA.

Useful Links

State of California v. United States Environmental Protection Agency Case (Federal District Court for the District of Northern California, May 6, 2019)

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