EPA updates methane requirements for landfills

Under new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, solid waste landfill operators must begin capturing methane emissions from their sites at levels one-third lower than current standards permit. 

The rule, finalized Friday after being proposed a year ago next month, updates 20-year-old standards for methane emissions at landfills. 

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The new standards will reduce landfill emissions by up to 334,000 tons a year by 2025 and produce climate benefits worth $512 million annually by then, the EPA announced. 

Landfill waste produces pollutants such as air toxins, carbon dioxide and methane as it decomposes. Landfills are the second-largest industrial source of methane emissions in the U.S., the EPA said, beyond oil and gas drilling sites.   

The rule comes as the Obama administration works to crack down on emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide. 

Officials have committed to cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by between 40 percent and 45 percent by 2025, an EPA push that has prompted resistance from the drilling sector. 

The Interior Department is considering how to cut down on methane at drilling sites on federal lands, and the Department of Agriculture is working with farmers to reduce emissions from their operations.