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Methane and Regulation: EPA's Recent Proposals

Sep 14, 2015 11:31 AM EDT
A methane pumping station that controls landfill emissions.
The EPA's recent proposals for controlling methane emissions apply to landfills and natural-gas fracking wells, in particular.
(Photo : Flickr: Gene Spesard)

The Environmental Protection Agency recently made two new proposals in hopes of further reducing methane emissions. Global emissions of this particular gas are considered the leading cause of climate change, following carbon dioxide pollution.

Emission levels in the Earth's atmosphere are at a record high, and have steadily increased over the last 20 years. A significant contributing factor is methane build-up caused by landfills. 

In 1996 the EPA established Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The proposed standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce 340,000 to 400,000 short tons of methane by 2025, the equivalent of reducing 7.7 to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The proposals require that new, modified and existing landfills begin capturing and controlling landfill gas, to produce emission levels nearly a third lower than current requirements. Both of these actions are part of the Obama Administrations Climate Action Plan under Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions. 

There are nearly 989 open and closed landfills--and of that number, 574 are currently required to collect and control their emissions, according to the new plan.

Some requirements of the proposal include finding and repairing leaks, and capturing natural gas from hydraulically fractured oil wells. A detailed outline of the latest proposed guidelines, fact sheets and the former requirements attached with data files thoroughly explaining the plan are provided on the EPA website.

Pollution produced through methane emissions acts as a leading cause in earth's climate change, which impacts severe weather changes, rising air temperatures and loss of sea ice.

For more information please visit the EPA's regulation website

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