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2 September 2015

Proposed NSPS and EG rules – the good, the bad, the ugly for small landfills

JRH 2015 (3)CornerPost bloggers have previously reported on proposed revisions to Municipal Solid Waste Landfill New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Emission Guidelines (EG) changes we saw back in 2014. Now it’s my turn to share information on what was actually included in the proposed rules, which were officially published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2015. Many of the comments are taken from a spirited dialog with small landfill representatives about the proposed rules that took place in July 2015 as part of a mandatory pre-publication review at the Office of Management and Budget.

The good – proposed changes that provide clarity and simplicity


    1. Landfill gas treatment – Specific numerical values were eliminated, along with additional monitoring and recordkeeping, for all LFG treatment operations. Instead the proposed rules define LFG treatment as a system that filters, de-waters, and compresses LFG for sale or beneficial use. This is a big win over the quantitative requirements proposed in 2014. It keeps LFG treatment in the current form and will not drastically increase costs which could have jeopardized beneficial use projects.
    2. Tier 4 option for alternative emissions determination – An alternative site-specific emission threshold was included, allowing sites to determine when a GCCS would be required based on a SEM demonstration. This option benefits small entities and encourages landfills to use work practices that limit emissions through the landfill cover.


  • Wellhead temperature and oxygen/nitrogen monitoring – The monthly monitoring requirements for temperature and nitrogen/oxygen were maintained, but corrective actions for fluctuations and variations are no longer required. There was no change to monthly monitoring requirements for pressure. Small entities support maintaining the negative pressure standards as this ensures proper GCCS operations. Elimination of the temperature and oxygen/nitrogen standards simplifies landfill operations.
  • Clarification to the definition of household waste and segregated yard waste – The new rules explain that they apply only to MSW landfills that accept general household waste (including garbage, trash, sanitary waste) and not to landfills that accept only segregated yard waste or a combination of segregated yard waste and non-household waste, such as C&D waste. This removes an unnecessary burden on C&D landfills that accept yard waste or C&D material originating from households.

 The bad – proposed changes with costly impact on site operations


  1. Lowering NMOC threshold from 50 Mg/year to 34 Mg/year – The proposed rules took the NMOC threshold even lower than the 40 Mg/yr threshold proposed in 2014. Active landfills will now trigger GCCS requirements earlier. Small entities that would otherwise never be subject to NSPS requirements now will be.  GCCS components would need to be installed earlier and, in these newer areas, would need to be replaced in the future. Requiring earlier installation of GCCS components in the active working areas of the landfill will result in significant cost for the extensions and redrills, which will be necessary over time.
  2. Surface emissions monitoring – The proposed rules state that SEM includes all cover penetrations. It also incorporates GPS technologies and contains stringent equipment accuracy requirements, which could result in additional cost for new SEM equipment. Small entities oppose these revisions, stating that they do nothing to reduce emissions. With the use of cover materials and well seals, most cover penetrations effectively capture and control LFG emissions.

The ugly – proposed changes with drastic negative impacts on landfill industry

  1. Startup, shut down, malfunction – All landfill owners are concerned with the proposed changes that would eliminate the current provisions applicable during SSM events. In addition, the 1-hour and 5-days criteria for control device and GCCS downtime, respectively, would be eliminated. All instances of GCCS downtime may be considered violations, subject to enforcement action and fines. The proposed rule also creates a presumption that all GCCS downtime events result in excess emissions. This is simply not true. Landfills need additional flexibility to allow for the inability to turn off LFG generation when the control system goes off-line. This change could be very problematic and create additional regulatory reporting.
  2. GCCS Design Plans – Under the proposed rule, a GCCS design plan must be revised within 90 days of expanding operations to an area not covered by a previously approved design plan. Updated design plans must also be approved before installing or expanding GCCS not consistent with the previously approved plan. The current process for construction/modification of a GCCS is complicated enough, and the proposed approval process would only further burden the process.

If you want to learn more about the topic, read Some proposed landfill NSPS/EG changes costly and unnecessary by Khaled Mahmood, PE, or Industry weighs in on proposed revisions to NSPS, by Ray Ramos.

What are your thoughts on the proposed NSPS/EG rules, especially as they relate to small landfills?

Julie Hall is a Project Manager in Cornerstone’s Cincinnati, OH office. She earned her degree in Chemical Engineering and has extensive history in air permitting and air compliance with clients throughout the mid-west.


Categories: Alternative Energy, Biogas and Landfill Gas, Environmental Planning & Compliance, Landfill Engineering and Design, Solid Waste
Posted By Julie Hall at 11:30 AM  |  1 Comment on Proposed NSPS and EG rules – the good, the bad, the ugly for small landfills

One Response to “Proposed NSPS and EG rules – the good, the bad, the ugly for small landfills”

  1. Nabilah Haque says:

    Thank you for the overview of & perspectives on the proposed revisions.

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