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EPA proposes first-time air emissions standards for commercial aircraft

Proposal would codify existing standards developed by industry

Proposed rules based on ICAO standards. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

For the first time, the United States is proposing regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft, U.S. Environment Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler announced today.

The regulations were developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) after consulting with EPA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. aviation industry, Wheeler said, noting that his agency is proposing to use a fuel efficiency-based metric established by ICAO that serves as a surrogate for controlling carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

“This GHG proposal will formalize technological improvements to the airplane certification process that until now were purely voluntary,” Wheeler said during a press briefing. “The proposed rule helps US companies manufacture airplanes and airplane engines that are accepted by airlines around the world.”

Critics of the proposal argue, however, that because the proposal does little more than codify standards largely created by the aviation industry it is “unlikely to diminish the industry’s contribution to global warming,” according to a New York Times report.

The proposal will undergo a formal rulemaking process, but a final rule is unlikely by the end of the year. Environmental groups noted that the rule likely would be scrapped and replaced by tighter standards if Joe Biden were to win the election in November.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.