Emissions regulations : EPA begins the process to limit Greenhouse Gas emissions from aircrafts [US]

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing the finding that GHG emissions from aircraft contribute to pollution that causes climate change and endangers public health and welfare. This action is paving the way for future regulatory action by the EPA to limit Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from aircraft engines.

Scope of proposed EPA action and finding on Greenhouse Gas emissions from aircrafts

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes the finding that Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from aircrafts contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare within the meaning of section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

  • The proposed action comes in response to citizen petitions from Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Earth Justice, as well as in anticipation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopting an international aircraft CO2 emission standard in early 2016.
  • The proposed finding applies to the covered aircraft that the international CO2 standards would apply to, as determined by the ICAO. These do not include military aircraft or smaller aircraft (e.g. smaller turboprops, smaller jet aircraft, piston-engine aircraft, and helicopters).

Paving the way rules limiting aircraft emissions.

While the EPA has not detailed the exact aircraft emissions standards, the proposed finding paves the way for the EPA to begin making rules to limit aircraft emissions. The proposed action puts entities such as manufacturers of new aircraft engines and new aircrafts on notice of future regulatory action.

The proposal has been submitted on 10th June 2015 for publication in the Federal Register.

 Red-on-line EHS Legal Specialist

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Background information :

  • GHGs refer to the six gases of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride;
  • Aircraft engine standards currently covers other exhaust pollutants include hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and smoke.