Greens to sue EPA over aircraft emissions

A coalition of environmental groups said Tuesday that it would file a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to take action to curb carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft.

Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth said that a judge ruled in 2010 that the EPA must publish an “endangerment finding” to declare that carbon from aircraft is dangerous but the agency has yet to do so.

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“The airline industry’s massive and fast-growing greenhouse gas pollution poses a dangerous threat to our climate,” Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “The EPA has to stop dragging its feet and start pushing airlines to curb their damaging carbon emissions.”

The groups said aviation accounts for about 11 percent of greenhouse gas-causing carbon emissions in the United States, and its emissions grow each year. The industry’s emissions are expected to quadruple by 2050 if the government does not take action, the groups added.

“EPA must act now to ensure that the airline industry operates more efficiently to play its part in protecting our families, our communities and the environment from the devastating effects of climate change,” said Martin Wagner, an Earthjustice attorney.

In their filing in advance of the lawsuit, the groups said aircraft accounted for about 4.9 percent of human-caused climate change in 2005.

While the EPA does not regulate carbon emissions from aircraft, it does enforce limits on nitrogen oxides and lead. 

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