U.S. EPA to propose commercial aircraft emission standards

On Wednesday, in a significant development, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is likely to announce the first proposed U.S. emissions standards for commercial aircraft.

The development comes in the wake of the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2016 agreeing on a global airplane emissions standards aimed at all airplane makers including Airbus SE and Boeing Co; both have incidentally backed the standards.

The EPA’s proposed regulations are aimed at aligning the United States with the ICAO standards, said officials. It would apply to all new designs as of January 2020 as well as in-production airplanes or even those with amended type certificates starting in 2028.

They would however not be applicable to airplanes that are currently in use.

In a statement, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, the airplane emissions proposal – along with other emissions regulations, represents “sensible, legally defendable steps to regulate greenhouse gases, while safeguarding American jobs and the economy.”

Aircraft account for 12% of all U.S. transportation greenhouse gas emissions and 3% of total such U.S. emissions. They are the largest source of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions not subject to standards.

It is crucial that the United States adopt the standards since other countries could ban U.S.-assembled airplanes if they do not meet ICAO standards, said EPA officials.

The proposed rules would “at least” be as stringent as the ICAO’s, said the EPA.

EPA is expected to finalize the rules next spring after public comments. Following this, the Federal Aviation Administration will then issue separate rules to enforce the standards, and the agency is expected to ultimately certify emissions compliance by U.S. manufactured airplanes.

“To help ward off the worst effects of climate change, we need effective, technology-forcing standards to reduce airplane pollution,” said Clare Lakewood, climate legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The EPA emissions proposal will not cover smaller turboprops, helicopters and military aircraft.

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