The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a federal court settlement with a landfill owner involving a civil penalty nearing $675,000, illuminating one way the EPA intends to implement its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative (NECI) of mitigating climate change under the agency’s Clean Air Act authority, through addressing methane gas emissions from landfills. Consequently, owners and operators of landfills should pay careful attention to ensuring compliance with landfill gas collection system operational requirements under the Clean Air Act, given the EPA’s compliance focus on this sector.
In August 2023, the EPA announced its six NECIs for the FY 2024–27 cycle. NECIs consist of EPA efforts to focus enforcement and compliance resources on the environmental and public-health subjects that EPA finds most pressing. One of the EPA’s new NECIs consists of mitigating climate change by reducing noncompliance with the Clean Air Act. To implement this climate-change initiative, the EPA has signaled that it intends to target: “(1) methane emissions from oil and gas facilities; (2) methane emissions from landfills; and (3) the use, importation, and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).”