Regulatory Developments, Special Topics in Environmental Management

EPA on Flight Path to Limit Aircraft GHGs

The EPA has issued a final rule that finds that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aircraft contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and the welfare of future generations. Having made that determination, the EPA is now obligated by the Clean Air Act (CAA) to propose and issue final standards under Section 231 (Aircraft Emission Standards). EPA’s action—commonly called an endangerment finding—also readies the Agency for the expected March 2017 adoption by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of aircraft GHG emissions.

If an international standard is approved and finalized by the ICAO, member states, which include the United States, that wish to use aircraft in international transportation will be required under the 2006 Chicago Convention to adopt standards that are at least equivalent in stringency to those set by the ICAO. All EPA-issued emissions standards for aircraft have been aligned with ICAO standards. Member states may ban the use of any aircraft within their airspace that does not meet ICAO standards.

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