Equilibrium & Sustainability

Biden administration signals it will keep Trump-era aircraft emissions rule


The Biden administration in a court filing Monday night indicated it will continue Trump-era regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the filing Monday in a multi-state lawsuit brought in the waning days of the Trump administration. In the lawsuit, the EPA indicated it would not begin a new rulemaking process for the rule, proposed in July 2020.

In a statement, the EPA defended the move and said it understood the need for further action to reduce emissions from aviation.

“That is why the U.S. will press for ambitious new international CO2 standards at the upcoming round of ICAO negotiations, why in September the Biden Administration announced a series of actions aimed at boosting the development of sustainable aviation fuel, and why earlier this month the Biden Administration released the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan at COP26,” the statement said.

The agency added that it would explore possible other actions it can take under the authority of the Clean Air Act, which is independent of the ICAO standards.

The Trump administration rule, which would implement standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), has been sharply criticized by environmental advocates, who note it would do little to meaningfully reduce aviation emissions. The agency itself wrote in 2020 that it was “not projecting emission reductions associated with today’s proposed GHG regulations.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, one of several environmental groups that filed a separate lawsuit over the rule, had harsh words for the Biden administration’s decision.

“White House officials had barely deplaned from their trip to the U.N. climate conference before the administration announced it won’t do anything to cut airplanes’ greenhouse pollution,” Liz Jones, an attorney at CBD, said in a statement. “The Biden administration has taken climate hypocrisy and delay to new heights. After being directed to review the useless Trump rule as part of a strategy to confront the climate crisis, the EPA twiddled its thumbs for nine months before deciding it would rather defend a do-nothing rule than set any meaningful limits on aircraft emissions.”

A CBD spokesperson confirmed to The Hill it will continue the lawsuit, adding that both parties should submit a briefing proposal no later than Dec. 6.

Commercial air travel is a significant source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, comprising about 3 percent of national emissions in 2018, according to EPA data.

Tags Airlines biden administration Emission standards EPA Trump-era

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