US to Propose New Aircraft Emissions Rules

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | September 5, 2014
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[Avionics Today 09-05-2014] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a timeline for proposing and finalizing new regulations for aircraft emissions. According to an information paper submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the EPA will study the health dangers of aircraft emissions and release its findings in April 2015. Following the release of the findings, EPA officials will look to propose final determinations on its findings by early 2016. 
American Airlines would be among the US carriers subject to new aircraft emissions rules that could be proposed by the EPA in 2016. Photo: American Airlines
ICAO's Committee on Aviation and Environmental Protection is currently developing international standards aimed at reducing global aircraft emissions, which the FAA and EPA are looking to align their regulations with. U.S. airlines in recent years refuted efforts by the European Union to reduce emissions, where operators would have been forced to pay fees imposed on aircraft emissions while flying over European airspace. Now this is moving forward in a more unified manner.
"The U.S. anticipates that CAEP will adopt an aircraft CO2 emissions standard in February 2016. … in preparing for the subsequent U.S./EPA domestic rulemaking process to adopt standards equivalent to the CAEP CO2 standards, U.S./EPA would first need to propose and then finalize endangerment and cause or contribute findings for aircraft GHG emissions," EPA said in its information paper submitted to ICAO. 
U.S.-based airlines have already been actively taking steps to reduce aircraft emissions by modernizing their fleets with newer, fuel-efficient aircraft, and modifying existing aircraft to reduce emissions as well. According to a recent report from Airlines for America (A4A), U.S. carriers are on track to add 317 new aircraft to their commercial operating fleets by the end of the year.
EPA cited pressure from stakeholders and court proceedings in recent years in its information paper submitted to ICAO. Advocacy groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity are applauding the new effort to propose new aircraft emissions regulations.

“We are delighted that the EPA has finally taken the first step to reduce the airline industry’s massive and ever-increasing greenhouse gas pollution, a dangerous threat to our climate,” said Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “After nearly two decades of inaction, we don’t know if the international community will issue meaningful carbon emission standards by 2016. But the good news is that the EPA must, and will, act — despite international foot-dragging. That reality may even lead to the first enforceable aircraft climate change treaty the world has known.” 

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