In 2016, US EPA finalized two rules designed to reduce methane and non-methane organic compound emissions from landfills. These rules were adopted as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions. US EPA issued final New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to reduce emissions caused by landfill gas from new, modified and reconstructed municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills, as well as Final Updates to Emissions Guidelines designed to reduce emissions from existing MSW landfills, on August 29, 2016. These combined rules updated the standards originally issued by US EPA in 1996.
On May 31, 2017, US EPA, under the Trump Administration, issued a stay of both rules until August 29, 2017 so that it could review an administrative petition filed on October 27, 2016 by the National Waste & Recycling Association, Solid Waste Association of North America, Republic Services, Inc., Waste Management Inc. and Waste Management Disposal Services of Pennsylvania, Inc. The petition sought reconsideration of the combined rules and an administrative stay under CAA section 307(d)(7)(B). Pursuant to this authority, US EPA stayed the effectiveness of these rules for 90 days so that it can address the objections raised in the administrative petition.
A recent decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, however, casts doubt on US EPA’s authority to stay the effectiveness of final rules under CAA section 307(d)(7)(B). In Clean Air Council et al. v. Pruitt et al., case number 17-1145, the court granted Environmental Petitioners’ motion to vacate US EPA’s stay of final rules that regulate methane emissions from new natural gas and oil drilling sites. US EPA, as a consequence of this decision, must enforce these rules as finalized until such time as they are formally amended or revoked. Although US EPA’s stay of the final NSPS and emission guidelines remains in place, it has been challenged in Natural Resources Defense Council, et. al. v. Pruitt, et. al., case number 17-1157. The case, which was filed on June 15, 2017, is still pending before the in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Continue Reading