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[GreenYes] reaching out to EDF re organics in the landfill

Title: [GreenYes] reaching out to EDF re organics in the landfill

Hi all,

Environmental Defense Fund plans to sue the EPA for failing to update
landfill emissions standards and enforce improved landfill gas capture
systems. The group is pushing the iniative in order to prevent climate
change from the nation's second largest source of methane emissions.
EDF is touting landfills as a source of homegrown energy with no
mention of the valuable paper, food and yard waste that causes methane
emissions. Diverting these materials through composting will
completely prevent methane emissions and have much more positive
climate and environmental benefits than stop-gap collection systems--
see or for the facts.

We need a concerted effort to steer EDF onto the right course and
prevent what could be another big win for the landfill industry and a
serious blow to organics recycling. We need to educate EDF and show
that their approach ignores the real opportunity for change through
eliminating methane emissions by composting. Does anyone have a strong
contact at EDF to get the ball rolling?

Kate Bailey

Environmental Defense Fund Takes Legal Action to Address Landfill
Methane Emissions
New U.S. Climate Change Science Report Calls Methane Reductions a
clear win-win solution


Vickie Patton – (720) 837-6239 or vpatton@no.address

Kevin Lynch – (303) 447-7200 or klynch@no.address
Sean Crowley - 202-550-6524 or scrowley@no.address

(Washington, DC – October 23, 2008)  Today, Environmental Defense Fund
filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) for its failure to update emission standards for hundreds
of landfills nationwide.  Landfills are the nation’s second largest
source of manmade methane pollution.  Methane is a potent greenhouse
gas and a contributor to the smog air pollution that is associated
with respiratory illnesses affecting millions of Americans.  In
September, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program issued a landmark
report declaring measures to reduce methane emissions a “clear win-
win” solution.

“Capturing the waste gas leaking from the nation’s landfills and
converting it to a local source of energy is a trifecta for the
nation’s economy, environment and energy security,” said Vickie
Patton, Environmental Defense Fund Deputy General Counsel.
“Converting methane pollution to a homegrown energy source is a common
sense solution to address global warming and protect our kids’ health
while boosting our economy.”

The recent U.S. Climate Change Science Program report determined that
measures to reduce methane emissions are:  a “clear win-win solution
for climate (less warming) and air quality (less pollution).”  See
Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for Long-Lived and
Short-Lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols, ps. 64-65, (Sept.
2008), at

Capturing landfill emissions also creates an economic boon to local
communities because cost-effective technology provides access to an
untapped energy source.

EPA has failed to update the emission standards for landfills for a
dozen years, violating its duty under the nation’s clean air laws to
modernize the emission standards at least every eight years.

Methane contributes to harmful ozone and is a potent greenhouse gas

Methane emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.
Exposure to ground-level ozone has been linked to serious health
effects including premature mortality, decreased lung function,
respiratory illness, and asthma.  Methane is also a potent global
warming gas – about 21 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere
than carbon dioxide (CO2).  Methane’s relatively short atmospheric
lifetime (10 years), coupled with its potency as a greenhouse gas,
makes reducing methane emissions from landfills one of the best ways
to mitigate global warming over the near-term..

Landfills are top emitters of methane gas

Methane is emitted from a variety of human and natural sources.
Municipal solid waste landfills are the second largest source of human-
related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for nearly
23 percent (125 Tg CO2 eq.) of emissions in 2006.  These emissions are
comparable to nearly three times the total carbon dioxide emissions
released from all of the nation’s cement manufacturing.  And the U.S.
is responsible for about 18% of global methane emissions from
landfills – equal to the landfill emissions of Canada, Mexico, China
and Russia combined.

Landfills can become clean energy sources

Landfill gas is created as solid waste decomposes in a landfill.  This
gas consists of about 50 percent methane, about 50 percent CO2, and a
small amount of non-methane organic compounds.  Because methane is a
principal component of natural gas, methane emissions from landfills
present a key opportunity to capture and use a significant home-grow
energy source.

Landfill gas is extracted from landfills using a series of wells and a
vacuum system.  This system directs the collected gas to a central
point where it can be processed and treated.  From this point, the gas
can be used to generate electricity, replace fossil fuels in
industrial and manufacturing operations, fuel greenhouse operations,
or be upgraded to pipeline quality gas.

A number of landfills around the country are already utilizing this
energy from methane.  The 16.6 million tons-in-place Lopez Canyon
landfill, run by the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, produces 7.1
megawatts of energy, enough to power 4,500 homes.  And the Coffin
Butte Landfill in Oregon produces enough methane to generate 5.66 MW
and power 4,000 homes.  While many landfills are realizing the
economic benefits of capturing and utilizing the energy from methane,
there are still hundreds of landfills across the nation missing this
critical opportunity.

EDF's Notice of Intent to Sue:

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