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EPA unveils plan to reduce landfill pollution

The plan would implement the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Existing Municipal Solid Waste Landfills.

The EPA recently issued a plan to implement the Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Existing Municipal Solid Waste Landfills rule that was originally published in 2016. The plan applies to existing municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills operated by any state, tribe or locale that has not submitted a satisfactory plan to reduce emissions of landfill gas following the publication of the MSW landfills emission guidelines.

According to a news release from the agency, the federal plan will affect landfills in states and Indian countries where state plans or tribal plans are not in effect. MSW landfills that will be impacted are those that commenced construction on or before July 17, 2014, and have not been modified or reconstructed since then.

“Unless the landfill is a legacy-controlled landfill, owners or operators of MSW landfills subject to the MSW landfills federal plan are required to submit a design capacity report within 90 days after the effective date of the federal plan,” the plan states. “If the design capacity report indicates a capacity equal to or greater than 2.5 million Mg and 2.5 million m3 of solid waste a landfill can accept, an annual [nonmethane organic compounds (NMOC)] emission rate report must also be submitted within 90 days after the effective date of the federal plan and then every 12 months until the landfill installs a gas collection and control system.” 

The Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Existing Municipal Solid Waste Landfills require existing landfills that reach a landfill gas emissions threshold of 34 metric tons of NMOC or more per year to install a system to collect and control landfill gas, according to the guidelines.

Some ways the plan will limit emissions are through compliance schedules, testing, monitoring and reporting requirements. The plan also includes an inventory of designated facilities and an estimate of emissions from them.

This plan implements emission guideline requirements to existing MSW landfills located in states and Indian countries where state plans or tribal plans are not currently in effect because a state or local agency failed to submit a plan, or a plan has not yet been approved. 

“Upon approval of a state plan, the federal plan will no longer apply to MSW landfills in that state,” the EPA says in a news release.

The EPA estimates that about 1,600 landfills could be covered by the plan. These landfills are in 41 states and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Additionally, one tribal entity, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, would be covered by this federal plan.

The EPA’s final plan is posted here for more information on what states are impacted.