Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) — Aircraft may be next in line for
U.S. regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions, as President Barack
Obama’s administration broadens its climate-change efforts
beyond automobiles and power plants.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it would
study the health dangers of that pollution — the first step in
the regulatory process — and release its findings by next
April. If it deems aircraft emissions a risk, it said it will
begin the process of crafting rules. Advocates say that won’t be
a high hurdle.
“There is no choice but to craft and adopt emissions
standards for aircraft,” Vera Pardee, a senior attorney at the
Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a lawsuit pressing
the EPA to take this action, said yesterday. “And once the U.S.
acts, the world will have to follow.”
Representatives of airlines such as Atlanta-based Delta Air
Lines Inc. and aircraft maker Boeing Co., based in Chicago, said
they support a global pact on limiting emissions. They have
pledged to use more efficient aircraft designs, new biofuels and
better practices to curb fuel use and reduce carbon output.
“The aviation industry has set very aggressive goals to
reduce emissions,” said Jessica Kowal, a spokeswoman for
The EPA first found in 2009 that greenhouse gases endanger
public health, part of the Obama administration’s effort to
establish fuel-economy standards for automobiles and trucks. It
relied on that finding to propose regulations for carbon
emissions for power plants. Given that previous determination,
the finding for aircraft “is inevitable,” Pardee said.
Airlines have fought efforts in the European Union to cut
carbon emissions, and say they favor an international accord
under the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United
Nations agency, instead of piecemeal rules. They praised the EPA
yesterday for presenting its regulation as part of those
negotiations, which the agency said will conclude in early 2016.
In its filing yesterday, the EPA didn’t say what form or
stringency any new regulations would take.
“We are pleased that the EPA and FAA are actively engaged
in the ICAO work to develop a carbon dioxide standard for new
type aircraft for approval in 2016, and that the EPA is
confirming the schedule to adopt the future international
standard into U.S. law,” Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for
Airlines for America, a Washington-based trade group, said in an
e-mail. The group represents airlines incuding Delta.
The ICAO has determined that the international standards
will apply to new aircraft and not the current fleet, he said.
Reducing aircraft emissions may prove difficult because
planes can’t use the alternative fuels available to automobiles,
said Dave Swierenga, president of aviation consultant Aeroecon
in Round Rock, Texas.
Potential regulations would probably be expensive for an
industry that has invested heavily in redesigned engines and
other technology to improve efficiency, he said.
“If you look at the history of fuel efficiency in the
industry, it’s hard to criticize the industry,” Swierenga said.
“They have constantly and continuously invested in more fuel-efficient airplanes and the less fuel they use, the fewer the
emissions they have.”
To contact the reporter on this story:
Mark Drajem in Washington at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at
Bernard Kohn, Maura Reynolds