Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing titled, “Avoiding, Detecting, and Capturing Methane Emissions from Landfills.”
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman. And thanks for holding the hearing.
“Welcome to our panel of witnesses.Thanks for your willingness to testify.
“As organic materials decompose in landfills, they produce landfill gas containing methane…the main compound found in natural gas.
“Due to the natural generation of methane in landfill gas, landfills are now the third largest source…of methane emissions in the U.S.
“This is not an environmental problem but an economic one, as methane lost to the atmosphere could be used for energy or manufacturing.
“While there is more work to be done, and improvements can be made, I want to acknowledge that the U.S. has made a lot of progress in reducing emissions from landfills.
“Through innovation thanks to the realization of its monetary value, the landfill sector has significantly improved its capacity to collect and manage landfill gas.
“Since 1990, U.S. landfills have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent.
“Recycling rates are increasing, and composting programs are taking off nationwide, meaning less methane-producing materials are ending up in the landfills.
“Also the number of landfills are decreasing due to increases in operational efficiency and improved land use.
“In considering solutions to address landfill methane that benefit the environment and economic development, it is essential that any regulations are achievable and that incentives are targeted.
“This is not what we have seen in the approach of this administration and particularly the Air Office at the EPA, which has pursued punitive regulations that are impossible to achieve, such as ‘Clean Power Plan 2.0’ and the misnamed ‘Good Neighbor’ regulations.
“The administration has also ladled out billions in funding for favored industries and causes which has been mired in red tape and have not delivered the promised results.
“We don’t want to repeat those mistakes here, and it is important that Congress scrutinize proposed regulations coming out of the Air Office that deal with landfill methane.
“Natural gas derived from landfill methane can be used to generate reliable electricity or be used as transportation or industrial fuels, all of which promotes energy independence while reducing emissions.
“But I am concerned that the landfill sector is facing the same approach that the Biden and Obama administrations have taken with regard to fossil fuels, where the goal is to make them uneconomic and then the EPA then works backwards to achieve that with crushing regulations.
“For example, proposed changes to the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review program would create a burdensome regulatory landscape for landfills seeking to implement technology innovations to address fugitive methane emissions.
“Despite receiving increased enforcement scrutiny for methane emissions, landfills have not been able to access the emissions reductions tax credits by the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, and have been shut out from the EPA’s implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard…
“I am concerned this is the beginning and not the end of political targeting of an industry that is necessary for our economy, public health, and environmental risk management.
“Indeed, the EPA will be considering several burdensome rulemakings on landfills this year.
“The agency is currently evaluating multiple rules related to New Source Review to penalize fugitive emissions, and require project emissions accounting in major permitting decisions.
“The waste sector already experiences needless permitting delays for deploying renewable energy projects that the administration supports.
“These rulemakings would only exacerbate the sector’s frequent permitting obstacles, we see this across industries, and aggravate the Biden administration’s stated goal of reducing methane emissions.
“The administration will also need to review its New Source Performance Standards and Emission Guidelines for Municipal Solid Waste landfills under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act this year.
“Environmental groups are already petitioning the EPA to set more stringent air emissions standards on smaller municipal landfills.
“There are bipartisan solutions in front of us today.
“There is broad bipartisan agreement about the difficulties of monitoring and measuring methane emissions from landfills.
“Development of new technologies is underway to better detect and quantify emissions.
“Municipal landfills and local communities could benefit from additional support from the EPA to research and evaluate cutting edge technologies.
“But none of this will work if outdated regulations like New Source Review stymie those upgrades at existing facilities to recover methane and get it to market
“I urge my colleagues to continue to work with me on permitting reform and updating out-of-date environmental regulations, areas within this Committee’s jurisdiction, so we can ensure that emissions reducing technologies can actually get out to the market and make a difference.
“Thank you to our three witnesses here today and I look forward to our discussion.”
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