Petition to Curb Aviation Emissions Gains Support

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being flooded with petitions from various sources to do more to curb greenhouse-gas pollution from aircraft. While the called-for measures are mostly aimed at airlines and large aircraft, general aviation, especially the business sector, is not likely to escape scrutiny. On Wednesday, a consortium of state and regional governments and environmental groups urged the agency to address the effects of pollution from the world's aircraft fleet. The petitions are the first step in a process that requires the EPA to evaluate the current impacts of aircraft emissions, seek public comment and develop rules to reduce aircraft emissions or explain why it will not act. "The commercial airlines already are driven to be as fuel efficient and environmentally conscious as possible," said David Castleveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association. U.S. airlines have improved their fuel efficiency 103 percent since 1978, he said, and ATA member airlines have committed to another 30-percent improvement by 2025. Petitions were filed by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico; the South Coast Air Quality Management District (Southern California); the City of New York; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and the District of Columbia.

Earthjustice filed the environmental groups' petition on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity. The requested rules could include measures such as requiring the use of lighter, more energy-efficient airplanes; mandating the development of more efficient designs; and creating incentives for the use of cleaner jet fuels. Aircraft are generally estimated to contribute about 3 percent of global-warming pollution worldwide, but that percentage is expected to grow.