Environmental Groups Sue Over Aircraft Emissions Rulemaking

四月 19, 2016

The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) seeking to compel the Agency to issue regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. The complaint alleges that the EPA has failed to take action on a petition filed by the environmental groups in 2007 seeking regulation of aircraft emissions under Section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the “EPA has delayed unreasonably in issuing an ‘Endangerment Finding’ for aircraft determining that carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by aircraft engines causes or significantly contributes to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare; and promulgating regulations limiting such emissions.”

The complaint further alleges that in July 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that the EPA has a compulsory duty to issue an endangerment finding, and that the EPA has yet to issue a final finding. In 2015, the EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on aircraft emissions, seeking public comment but has taken no action since. The environmental groups said they are seeking a firm deadline for the EPA to take action. The groups have expressed concerns regarding the upcoming change of administration after the 2016 election, and the impact on the EPA rulemaking. The EPA has said it expects to issue its final endangerment finding this year with proposed aircraft emissions standards expected in 2017 and a final rule by 2018.

As part of its advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the EPA indicated it would likely follow standards being developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”). Aircraft  makers and airlines have favored a uniform international standard; however, environmental groups have said the standards currently being developed are inadequate. As noted in our February 2016 Alert, the ICAO will meet September 27th to October 7th later this year to adopt a uniform proposal on aircraft emissions. In the meantime, on April 15th, key members of the EU Parliament Environment Committee sent a letter to the EU transport ministers asking for immediate action on control of greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft and maritime vessels.

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