Updated: Aug 18
On July 14, 2016, the EPA passed new guidelines intended to reduce emissions from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. These rules were adopted as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, and were issued as final New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) on August 29, 2016. On May 31st of this year, the EPA's new administration has since issued a 90 day stay to allow for further review of these new rules prior to their implementation. The stay expires August 29, 2017.
The stay allows for review and reconsideration of; Tier 4 surface emission monitoring, annual liquids reporting, corrective action timeline procedures, overlapping applicability with other rules, the definition of cover penetration, and design plan approval.
Specific to Tier 4 emissions monitoring, the new EPA administrated wrote that the recently "proposed rule included tier 4 SEM as an optional monitoring method; however, the final rule imposed restrictions on the use of tier 4 SEM, e.g., limits on wind speed, the use of wind barriers, and restricting the use of tier 4 SEM to landfills with non-methane organic compounds emission rates between 34 and 50 mega grams per year, that were not included in the proposal."
The new administration is right to point out that these new and highly prescriptive requirements for inspection were added "without the benefit of public comment". While this part of the rule is optional, the specificity of the test methods by the EPA negate the intent of the rule since following the prescribed method is not possible. It would be akin to having our government specify that our mission to Mars can only be performed using a 1973 AMC Hornet with whitewall tires, limited to 63 mph and restricted to flying at night.
In addition, in the EPA's most recent rules, they have specified that landfill cover penetrations be monitored, yet they have not defined what constitutes a cover penetration. Are we talking about gas wells, or silt fences that are held in place by wooden stakes? The rules to monitor cover penetrations are burdensome enough but without proper definition, the rule is thus unnecessary.
Since this new regulation places additional burdens on the industry and needs much clarification, the new EPA administration has correctly delayed its implementation and is appropriately reconsidering the rule.
Sniffer Robotics is focused on developing an automated method for quarterly emissions monitoring within the municipal solid waste industry. Our company provides a new and alternative technology to help site owners safely and efficiently quantify emissions and identify sources of leaks. Our primary mission is to meet the intent of the regulation but also to provide equivalency as compared to traditional and currently EPA prescribed methods.
However, we are reminded with these recently proposed rules the more government tries to define the "how" (through narrow perspective methods), the more difficult it becomes for newer technologies to benefit industry and our environment. Technology is moving much faster than regulation. We see this today in our everyday lives. It is for this reason we ask the EPA to be promote regulation that is more performance-based. Leave the prescriptions to industry.
Allow technology to flourish and work for us all.