Last May, the Trump EPA issued a 90-day stay of two Obama-era landfill methane rules, namely the Standards of Performance for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (NSPS Subpart XXX) and the Emissions Guidelines (EG). EPA was responding to concerns by industry groups to reconsider portions of the rules. After the stay was put into place, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and others filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for review of the stay. While that petition was pending, the stay expired on August 29, 2017 and the rules went into effect.
This past week, the NRDC voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit following surprising stipulations by EPA that the stay did not affect the May 30, 2017 deadline for states to submit implementation plans for existing landfills or EPA’s obligation to approve or disapprove those plans by September 31, 2017 or promulgate federal plans for states that did not timely submit state plans by November 30, 2017. In short, EPA conceded that the deadlines have past and weren’t met.
The environmental groups are claiming victory with EPA’s concessions. However, it remains to be seen when EPA will begin enforcing the rules. EPA’s website still states that it intends to complete the reconsideration process and comments from waste industry representatives indicate that they still intend to pursue rule revisions. With EPA not actively enforcing the rules, more litigation is likely to come. Check back here at Environmental Law Next for additional updates as they develop.