Two major environmental groups have given the EPA six months to take action against pollution caused by aircraft or face a lawsuit. The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth announced the potential legal action, saying the EPA issued a determination in 2016 that aircraft emissions are a danger to human health but hasn’t done anything to curb them. “The Trump administration’s refusal to curb plane pollution is fueling the climate crisis,” Clare Lakewood, climate legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Reuters. “Airplane pollution is increasing at really worrying rates, but the EPA just keeps refusing to address this skyrocketing threat to our rapidly warming planet.”
Aviation accounts for about 2 percent of global greenhouse emissions and 12 percent of transportation-related sources and in the U.S. airplanes are the largest unregulated producer of climate change pollution. Global air traffic is expected to double in the next 20 years but more fuel-efficient engines on new aircraft should mitigate the emissions levels somewhat. The EPA told Reuters it’s working on new regs and expects to propose them this month but it promised proposed rules last September and didn’t deliver them. International Civil Aviation Organization standards on new aircraft take effect this year aimed at making future growth carbon neutral and the EPA said it “anticipates adopting domestic GHG (greenhouse gas) standards that would be at least as stringent as ICAO’s standards.” In addition to the better engines, ICAO hopes to curb emissions through the use of biofuel and more efficient routing and ATC procedures.