US Airlines Next On EPA’s Target List For Carbon Emissions

US Airlines Next On EPA’s Target List For Carbon Emissions
Southwest Airlines Heart of Texas at New Orleans Airport DigitalRalph/Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Environmental Protection Agency is placing U.S. airlines as its next target to reduce the country’s combined carbon emissions.


EPA is expected to release an endangerment finding report on June 5 which states that human health is greatly endangered by the greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, apart from greatly contributing to global warming. It will be posted online for comments. The report will then prompt leaders and authorities to scrutinize the Clean Air Act and set new emissions targets that will give EPA the authority to issue new regulations slashing airline industry pollution.

Estimates earlier released by the United Nations Environment Program showed 5 percent of global emissions come from the tourism, where aviation accounts for 40 percent. In America’s transportation sector, according to EPA, 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from aircraft. Overall, the sector is responsible for 3 percent of the U.S.’ greenhouse gas emissions.

“Aircraft are the largest remaining unregulated source of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and can only be regulated by the federal government,” William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, told the New York Times.

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Aircraft manufacturers and the airlines companies have long opposed such regulations, claiming only international governing bodies can set and implement emissions standards. The Air Transport Action Group, an industry organization, said today’s jetliners are already 70 percent more fuel efficient per seat mile compared from the 1960s.

“As aviation is a global industry, with airlines and aircraft operators operating internationally and aircraft manufacturers selling their aircraft in international markets, it is critical that aircraft emissions standards continue to be agreed at the international level,” Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade group, told the Times.

The proposed new regulations, if it materializes, will target only commercial aircraft. General aviation and military planes will be exempted.

It could be possible the U.S. will adopt the emissions standard that is being negotiated by the International Civil Aviation Organization. It vowed to reduce emissions across the economy by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.