U.S. EPA and Solid Waste Association Agree to Collaborate on Methane Reduction Efforts

June 13, 2011


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the International Solid Waste Association (“ISWA”) have agreed to work together to address methane emissions from landfills.[1] In a recently-signed memorandum of understanding, the two organizations committed to coordinate training activities and workshops, promote greenhouse gas reduction, mitigation and energy recovery efforts, build capacity of landfill gas capture systems, and provide support, feedback and other guidance to those involved in these efforts.

The EPA and ISWA also established specific goals, including holding a biennial conference and an annual workshop, establishing a landfill working group, an energy recovery working group, and an ISWA congress, and improving collaboration on and promotion of landfill gas mitigation measures.

While ISWA and EPA have worked together in the past on several of these issues, this memorandum formalizes the relationship between the organizations.

The landfill methane reduction effort is part of the Global Methane Initiative (“GMI”), a public/private partnership involving 38 countries focused on five major methane emission sources: agriculture, underground coal mines, landfills, natural gas and oil systems, and wastewater. The Landfill Methane Outreach Program (“LMOP”) under the GMI is a voluntary assistance and partnership program that promotes the use of landfill gas as a renewable, green energy source. By preventing methane emissions through the development of landfill gas energy projects, LMOP hopes to help businesses, states, energy providers, and communities improve sustainability and environmental protection. The EPA reports that the LMOP has assisted in the development of approximately 330 landfill gas utilization projects that have prevented the release of more than 24 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent gases to the atmosphere over the past 12 years.

The United States government has committed at least $50 million over the next 5 years to GMI projects in both the public and private sectors. Proposals for the last round of funding were due in July, 2010. While no decision has been made, the EPA hopes to make additional funds available in the Fall of 2011, with proposals due toward the end of Summer, 2011. Generally, awards under the program range from $20,000 to $500,000.

Eligible projects will focus on technology transfer and deployment of technology, technical reports, feasibility and pre-feasibility studies, databases of methane emissions or potential sites for projects, information clearinghouse, training and/or capacity building, study tours, conferences, project expositions, workshops, improved methane emissions estimates, and country-wide methane reduction programs. Projects and activities focused on promoting methane projects within the U.S. have not been considered.

Proposals have been accepted from states, local governments, territories, Indian tribes, U.S. possessions, foreign governments, international organizations, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private non-profit institutions. For-profit organizations and U.S. federal agencies are not eligible.

More details on the application process can be found here.

[1] Methane is a hydrocarbon, the primary component of natural gas, and thought to be a major contributor to climate change. Methane is emitted from numerous sources, including the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil, from livestock and other agricultural practices, and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills. Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, accounting for 14 percent of global emissions in 2005.