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Idea of the Day: How to Reduce Methane Emissions from Landfills

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Conversations about mitigating climate change typically focus on carbon dioxide emissions, but methane, another greenhouse gas, is a sleeping giant. Even though we emit less methane than carbon dioxide, it has a greater short-term impact on global warming. In fact, methane is 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.

Because of this, the recent release of the White House’s Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions is a critical juncture in our fight against climate change. Back in June 2013, President Barack Obama promised action on reducing methane in his Climate Action Plan, an ambitious agenda to address the increasing dangers of global warming. However, while the new methane strategy is a promising step forward, there are more policies that the administration should pursue. In particular, we need to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and divert the remaining waste to energy-recovery facilities that generate electricity—a process known as energy from waste, or EfW. This process will reduce landfill methane emissions and offset the carbon dioxide emissions generated from coal and natural gas power plants. Additionally, states should be allowed to incorporate EfW technology in their implementation plans to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s, or EPA’s, forthcoming carbon-pollution standards.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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