Climate: EPA seeks to cut landfill methane emissions

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Cutting methane emissions is a key piece of the Obama administration’s climate strategy.

Cost of new regs estimated at $55 billion

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oil and gas drilling aren’t the only sources of methane. Landfills generate a significant amount of the heat-trapping gas as waste materials decompose in the ground. Now, the EPA wants to reduce those emissions amount by a third with a rule that would require landfills to collect and control methane.

According to the agency, municipal landfills are the third-largest source of methane, accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2013 – the equivalent of approximately 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.Cutting methane is important because the gas is 25 times more powerful than CO2 as a heat-trapping pollutant. In addition to methane, landfills also emit other pollutants, including the air toxics benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and vinyl chloride.

Combined, the proposed rules are expected to reduce methane emissions by an estimated 487,000 tons a year beginning in 2025 – equivalent to reducing 12.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the carbon pollution emissions from more than 1.1 million homes. EPA estimates the climate benefits of the combined proposals at nearly $750 million in 2025 or nearly $14 for every dollar spent to comply. Combined costs of the proposed rules are estimated at $55 million in 2025.

The EPA will take comment on the proposed rules for 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold a public hearing if one is requested within five days of publication.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/landfill/landflpg.html

Information on the Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/28/strategy-cut-methane-emissions

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