Obama to seek cut in airplane emissions

Obama to seek cut in airplane emissions
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The Obama administration has decided to propose cutting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce as soon as this week its conclusion that carbon dioxide from commercial airliners harms the public health or welfare, The New York Times reported.

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The official “endangerment finding” would set off a process leading toward regulations to limit the emissions, which account for 11 percent of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gases and 3 percent of the country’s total.

It would follow major rules the Obama administration has enforced or proposed to limit greenhouse gases from cars, trucks and power plants. Proposed rules on the latter have been extremely controversial.

Given the difficulties in regulating airplanes, the rules are likely to focus heavily on improving the efficiency of aircraft and their engines, the Times said.

The EPA’s regulatory framework would probably seek to align the United States with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s ongoing process for setting worldwide emissions standards for airplanes, in an effort to set a level playing field for an international industry, according to the Times.

But environmental groups are hoping that the EPA will go beyond what the international body is doing and prevent more emissions.

A federal court ruled in 2011 that the EPA is obligated to undertake the process of determining whether an endangerment finding is necessary for aircraft.

Facing the threat of another lawsuit from environmentalists, the EPA announced in September that it would study the issue. Under the schedule, the agency is due to formally propose regulations next spring if it decides they’re warranted.