Attorney General Becerra: If EPA Administrator Pruitt Fails to Enforce a Critical Landfill Methane Regulation, We Will See Him in Court
SACRAMENTO – Leading 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) 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.
“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,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “EPA Administrator Pruitt has a legal responsibility to enforce this critical landfill methane regulation. If he fails to do his job, our coalition is ready to go to court.”
“Landfills that leak gas stink. They also contribute to our air quality problems and emit potent climate-changing gases," said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “The EPA has laws on the books to control this problem but it’s refusing to follow its own rules. We deserve better and we’re putting them on notice today to do better."
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:
- 1.6 million passenger vehicles driven for one year.
- 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 Becerra in sending today’s 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue are the Attorneys General of Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, 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 EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt accountable. Among other actions, Attorney General Becerra has submitted a 30-page comment letter to the EPA on due process violations, lack of fairness, and ethical lapses that arise from Administrator Pruitt’s involvement in the proposed rulemaking to repeal the Clean Power Plan; 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 he recently secured a federal court ruling that will require the EPA to designate areas of the country that have unhealthy levels of smog in excess of federal Clean Air Act requirements.
A copy of the 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.