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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills such as this one on the edge of Orlando are among the nation’s largest sources of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to global warming. A seminal U.N. report published in May found that immediate reductions in methane emissions are the best, swiftest chance the planet has at slowing climate change. Landfills emit methane when organic wastes such as food scraps, wood and paper decompose.
But the challenges to reining in methane are big, beginning with even quantifying how much leaves landfills. Industry operators insist the EPA overestimates emissions. Yet independent research looking at emissions from landfills in California and a top EPA methane expert said that the agency significantly underestimates landfill methane.