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March 27, 2018

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN ANNOUNCES INTENT TO SUE OVER U.S. EPA FAILURE TO ENFORCE LANDFILL METHANE REGULATION

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with six attorneys general, the California Air Resources Board, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection submitted a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to its 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 Oct. 28, 2016, but the EPA has not enforced it. The EPA has no legal basis for delaying implementation and enforcement of the regulation. Yet the EPA has stated that it intends to complete a reconsideration of the regulation by spring 2020, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

“The U.S. EPA has an obligation to protect Americans and our environment from the irreversible effects of climate change and regulating landfill emissions is critical to that work,” Madigan said. “Despite the EPA’s continued failure, I will act in the best interest of the state, our residents and the environment.”

Landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the U. S., 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 or electricity usage in 1.1 million homes for one year;
  • Protecting against asthma and other respiratory diseases, especially among the country’s most vulnerable populations, such as young and older citizens; and
  • Protecting against cancer-causing hazardous air pollutants.

Joining Attorney General Madigan in sending the 60-day notice of intent to sue are the attorneys general of California, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the California Air Resources Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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