The federal government plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes. According to the New York Times, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to announce (paywall) as early as June 5 that the emissions are major contributors to global warming and therefore a risk to human health.
This “endangerment finding” will require the agency to introduce new regulations to cut emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Times reports that the agency will likely limit the restrictions to commercial planes. (The EPA took similar steps after determining that emissions from power plants and vehicles were detrimental to human health.)
The aviation rules have been a long time coming. In 2010, environmental groups sued the EPA to launch the regulation process, and in 2011 a federal court sided with the activists, requiring the agency to address the issue.
The point of contention between environmental groups and the airline industry is whether the rules adopted by the US should be consistent with, or stricter than, a planned global carbon dioxide standard from the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.
Aviation is a fast-growing source of emissions. If they continue to go unregulated, global emissions could triple by 2050, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.