Attorney General Becerra Prevails in Lawsuit Challenging the EPA’s Failure to Regulate Landfill Emissions

Monday, May 6, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued the following statement in response to a federal district court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to implement and enforce a critical landfill methane regulation was unlawful. In May 2018, Attorney General Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) led a coalition of eight attorneys general and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in the lawsuit challenging EPA’s inaction.

We celebrate this ruling requiring EPA to fulfill its long-overdue mandatory duties to control emissions from landfills,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Noxious landfill emissions affect everyone, but disproportionately hurt our most vulnerable communities, impacting their health, environment, and standard of living. 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.” 

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 EPA has not implemented or enforced it. Instead, with no legal basis for delaying implementation and enforcement of the regulation, EPA stated that it intended to complete a reconsideration of the regulation by Spring 2020. Today the court ruled that given the role landfill emissions play in exacerbating climate change, EPA’s failure to implement these regulations is not only unacceptable, but in violation of the Clean Air Act. The ruling requires EPA to respond to all state plans already submitted within four months, and to develop a federal plan within six months. 

A copy of the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Haywood S. Gilliam is available here.

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