The U.S. District Court’s refused on Friday to dismiss a multistate lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the EPA’s failure to implement regulations reducing emissions from landfills.
“We are pleased that the court has upheld our right to address EPA’s long-overdue mandatory duties to control emissions from landfills,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who filed the suit in May 2018 in the Northern District of California.
Joining as plaintiffs were the California Air Resources Board, the Attorneys General of Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“Noxious landfill emissions affect everyone, but disproportionately hurt our most vulnerable communities, impacting their health, environment, and standard of living,” Becerra said. “And given the role landfill emissions play in exacerbating climate change, EPA’s ongoing efforts to delay implementation of these regulations is unacceptable. We look forward to holding the EPA accountable for its failure to perform its mandatory duties under the Clean Air Act, and for its unwillingness to protect public health.”
A copy of the decision can be found here.
The suit addresses the EPA’s failure to implement or enforce an existing rule that would reduce landfill emissions of organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, carbon dioxide and methane.
Landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, and in 2015, accounted for approximately 18.2 percent of national emissions. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to regulate all categories of stationary sources that cause or contribute significantly to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare, such as landfills.
The regulation at issue, known formally as the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfill, would lead to numerous public health and environmental benefits, including:
* Preventing the equivalent of 7.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is equal to 1.5 million passenger vehicles driven for one year.
* Reducing emissions of pollutants that cause asthma and other respiratory diseases, especially among the country’s most vulnerable populations—its youngest and oldest residents.
* Reducing emissions of cancer-causing hazardous air pollutants.
Along with filing 25 lawsuits on environmental matters since taking office, Becerra has taken a number of actions in recent months against the Trump Administration’s EPA.
On Nov. 16, Becerra, along with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, led a coalition of 16 states in filing formal comments against the EPA’s rollback of refrigerant management regulations.
On Nov. 1, Becerra joined a multistate comment letter denouncing the Trump Administration’s proposal to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, which sets limits on carbon emissions from exiting fossil-fuel power plants.
Just a week prior, on Oct. 26, Becerra — leading a coalition of 21 attorneys general and the cities of Oakland, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and New York — filed written comments demanding that the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withdraw their dangerous and misguided proposal to eliminate national Clean Car Standards.