Climate 411

Advanced methane technologies can strengthen new landfill pollution limits

(This post was co-authored by EDF’s Peter Zalzal)

When organic waste ends up in landfills, it produces methane — a powerful climate pollutant —as it decomposes.

In the U.S., landfills are our third largest source of methane and a major driver of climate change. They also emit large amounts of health-harming and even cancer-causing pollution, such as toxic benzene, that endangers nearby communities. And to make matters even worse, they cause noise and odor problems.

Recent scientific studies indicate that landfills may be an even greater source of pollution than we thought. A study led by scientists at Carbon Mapper and recently published in the journal Science surveyed 20% of open U.S. landfills and found significant point source emissions at the majority (52%) of sites.

Earlier work based on data from the TROPOMI space satellite looked at 73 landfills and found their pollution was, on median, 77% more than what was reported to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

Advanced methane monitoring technology has developed rapidly in recent years, creating new opportunities to substantially reduce harmful pollution from landfills. EPA’s recently finalized oil and gas standards allow operators to deploy these technologies, such as aerial flyovers and drones, to find and fix methane leaks.

Building from this work, EPA now has a vital opportunity to incorporate advanced technologies into new landfill rules.

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Posted in Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Innovation, News, Policy / Leave a comment

We urgently need pollution limits for hydrogen facilities

A hydrogen center in Germany. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has now finalized a wide array of standards to protect people and the climate from dangerous pollution. Those standards cover some of the largest polluting sectors in the U.S., including oil and gas production, power plants, and cars and trucks.

But there’s another source of dangerous pollution that still isn’t subject to air pollution limits. With a projected doubling of hydrogen production over the next decade, we need protective standards that will ensure any growth in this industry doesn’t exacerbate public health and environmental harms. Luckily, EPA recently announced that it plans to do just that (see page 539).

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Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy / Leave a comment