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EPA Moves Towards Regulating Emissions From Planes

airplaneThe US EPA says greenhouse gas emissions generated by commercial aircraft contribute to global warming and endanger human health, a declaration that lays the groundwork for regulating domestic aircraft regulation.

The agency also announced that its releasing information about the international process already underway by the International Civil Aviation Organization for developing carbon dioxide standards for aircraft and EPA’s participation in that process. EPA is now seeking public input to help determine how to proceed.

The EPA has in the past used endangerment findings to implement the so-called tailpipe rule, which set GHG emission standards for cars and light trucks, with fuel economy standards issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration beginning with model year 2012. The tailpipe rule automatically triggered regulation of stationary GHG emitters under the Clean Air Act, requiring state-issued permits for iron and steel mill plants, among others, if they have the potential to emit more than 100 tons per year of “any air pollutant.” These regulations went into effect Jan. 2, 2011.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized body of the United Nations with 191 member states, has agreed to create a market-based program to reduce airline emissions — starting in 2020 — with details to be decided in 2016.

EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration, representing the US, are participating in ICAO’s process. The ICAO standards are expected to be adopted in early 2016.

US aircraft emit roughly 11 percent of GHG emissions from the US transportation sector and 29 percent of GHG emissions from all aircraft globally, according to the EPA.

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