Seek federal funding to reduce methane emissions 

The landfill at Dennings Point in Beacon was closed in 1985, but its decaying remains are the city’s largest source of methane, the potent greenhouse gas that, along with carbon dioxide, is fueling global warming. 

To reduce landfill emissions, Beacon and other Hudson Valley municipalities, including Philipstown, are joining the Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC) in Newburgh to apply for a federal grant. 

If the Environmental Protection Agency approves the funding, officials in Beacon and Philipstown plan to install biofilters made of mulch and compost, according to Eleanor Peck, HVRC’s deputy executive director, and Melanie Patapis, its Climate Smart Communities coordinator. 

Studies have shown that the biofilters, which cost about $40,000 at a small landfill to $100,000 at a large one, can reduce vented methane emissions by as much as 90 percent, they said. 

“There are at least dozens of closed landfills in the Hudson Valley and across the state and the country, and they’re all emitting methane,” said Peck. “We have this pretty cheap way to mitigate those emissions effectively.”  

The City of Beacon’s solar farm at the former Denning’s Point landfill (Photo by B. Cronin)

The Philipstown Town Board on March 7 authorized Supervisor John Van Tassel to join the grant application on behalf of the town. Beacon’s administrator, Chris White, said on Wednesday (March 13) that the city is also on board. 

It’s only in recent years that the HVRC began to understand the impact of climate change from landfills, said Peck. Beacon and Philipstown are among 15 municipalities that expressed interest in joining the application for federal funds, although some have yet to officially commit. 

When they are closed, landfills are “capped” to prevent contaminants from spreading and outfitted with a system that collects and releases carbon dioxide and methane created by decaying organic matter. 

While carbon dioxide has a longer life, methane is 28 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the EPA. That trapped heat is driving climate change. 

Local communities, aided by HVRC, have been measuring the carbon dioxide and methane they produce through greenhouse gas inventories. As participants in the state’s Climate Smart Communities program, Beacon and Philipstown have inventoried gases emitted by operations such as highway department trucks. 

Measuring emissions from closed landfills is optional under the program, said Palapis, and Philipstown did not include its closed landfill on Lane Gate Road in its most recent inventory. However, in a letter to HVRC, Van Tassel said closed landfills like Philipstown’s are an “insidious driver” of methane emissions. 

Palapis said that, generally, landfills account for 50 percent to 90 percent of a municipal government’s emissions, even if the sites aren’t active. 

Beacon’s most recent greenhouse gas inventory, released in January, includes landfill measurements. It found they accounted for 37 percent of the city’s overall emissions in 2021 and 61 percent of the emissions from facilities the city owns and operates.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.


An earlier version of this article stated that the landfill at Dennings Point was closed and capped in 1968. In fact, it was limited by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to industrial waste such as sludge in 1978, closed by the DEC in 1985 and capped soon after.

The Peekskill resident is a former reporter for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, where he covered Sullivan County and later Newburgh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.

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