Raúl Torrez | Attorney General

AG Balderas Sues EPA Over Failure to Enforce a Critical Landfill Methane Regulation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2018

Contact: David Carl (505) 288-2465

Albuquerque, NM – Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas, joined a coalition of eight attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to implement and enforce a critical landfill methane regulation.

“The EPA is clearly not doing its duty in enforcing the Clean Air Act,” said Attorney General Balderas. “The EPA can’t pick and choose which regulations it chooses to enforce, and every day that this continues, more dangerous chemicals are released into the air that New Mexicans breathe.” That regulation reduces landfill emissions of volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, carbon dioxide, and methane. It went into effect on October 28, 2016, but the EPA has not implemented or enforced it. New Mexico adopted plans and regulations to comply with the rule in May 2017, but EPA has not fulfilled its duty to approve and implement those provisions. Instead, with no legal basis for delaying implementation and enforcement of the regulation, the EPA stated that it intends to complete a reconsideration of the regulation by Spring 2020. This is a violation of the Clean Air Act. Attorney General Balderas is seeking a level playing field where all states do their part to curtail these harmful emissions.

Landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 18.2 percent of national emissions in 2015. The Clean Air Act requires 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. Enforcing the regulation would lead to numerous public health and environmental benefits, including:

Preventing 8.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, which translates to:

1.8 million passenger vehicles driven for one year or

1.1 million homes’ electricity use for one year.

Protecting against pollutants that cause asthma and other respiratory diseases, especially among the country’s most vulnerable populations—its youngest and oldest residents.

Protecting against cancer-causing hazardous air pollutants.

Joining Balderas in filing today’s lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The California Air Resources Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection are also a part of the coalition.

Copy of the brief is available upon request.

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Raul Torrez

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