Energy & Environment

12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is facing two legal challenges from environmental groups and a coalition of 12 states and Washington, D.C., over its new emissions standards for airlines.

The attorneys general and the groups argue that the first-ever U.S. standards, which are not expected to actually reduce emissions, are insufficient.

“The aviation industry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, yet the EPA has set standards here that are the equivalent of doing nothing,” Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, said in a statement. 

“No sector, certainly not one that is a major contributor of [greenhouse gasses], should be gifted a free pass from taking meaningful action to limit emissions,” added the attorney general. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.  

The EPA declined to comment, saying it does not comment on pending litigation. 

Last month, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler touted the standards as part of the “Trump Administration’s pragmatic approach to climate action that has produced meaningful results without unnecessarily sacrificing American jobs or important domestic industries like our aircraft manufacturers.”

However, the agency admitted that the standards are not expected to have an impact on emissions, as the rule itself says “EPA is not projecting emission reductions associated with today’s proposed GHG regulations.”

The rule adopts existing emission standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations’s aviation authority. 

The Air Transport Action Group, an aviation industry organization, says that globally, the industry is responsible for about 2 percent of carbon emissions. As of 2018, the transportation sector at large accounted for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Tags Andrew Wheeler Joe Biden Xavier Becerra

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