EPA Proposes Emission Standards For Aircraft (Updated)


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule last week that would set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for some commercial aircraft. According to the agency, the rule would match international airplane carbon dioxide (CO2) standards adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017. The rule (PDF) would apply to jets with maximum takeoff weights greater than 5,700 kilograms (12,566 pounds) and propeller-driven aircraft with maximum takeoff weights greater than 8,618 kilograms (18,999 pounds).

“In 2016 under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act, EPA found that GHG emissions from certain classes of engines used in aircraft contribute to the air pollution that causes climate change endangering public health and welfare,” the agency said. “These findings triggered a requirement for EPA to promulgate standards addressing GHG emissions from engines on covered aircraft. Today’s action begins the process of following through on that requirement.”

If enacted, the GHG standards would go into effect for new type designs on or after Jan. 1, 2020 and in-production aircraft on or after Jan. 1, 2028. Already manufactured aircraft would not be affected. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 20 and will be open for public comment until October 19, 2020.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Just what the industry and its customers need. And the timing couldn’t be better.
    I can feel the Earth cooling down already. Time to invest in icebreakers!

    • The worst part is that these clowns are using the discredited and debunked “climate change” schtick to justify this bogus incremental cost increase to everyone. It should be derided and summarily dismissed on that basis alone.

      • Actually, climate change is real. It has happened before, and will happen in the future. Do you mean anthropogenic global warming due [entirely] to human burning of fossil fuels?
        In any case, the ICAO standards have been known and “worked to” by major jet engine manufacturers for quite some time, so this is just huff’n’puff.

  2. “Climate Change” is a Trojan Horse for socialism. It’s also job security for government bureaucrats who promulgate rules that accomplish nothing except making aviation more expensive. A better strategy would be to “Sunset” the EPA.

    • Just exactly right. The “government” that WE pay for needs some house cleaning. One place to start would be legislation that prohibits using terms like “climate change” in any rule or regulation.

    • Then again, you have “we the people” acting like idiots with COVID as if nothing is wrong, until it hits them or one of their loved ones.
      I’m all for clean air and clean water, and it can be done without “socialism”. Linking the two is ludicrous.

      • Couldn’t agree more. Global warming is a simplified title for complex data-driven insights collected and agreed upon by scientists *worldwide*. One would think that data resonates with pilots. To deny the subtle but steady temperature increases measured over decades and the observed consequences such as droughts, more and more severe storms with floods, disappearing glaciers, and instead trying to mix in socialism (seriously..??) is as bizarre as it is pathetic.

    • What is the EPA gonna do when ‘ol Sol turns into a red giant and incinerates the Earth as WE know it ?? What’ll they ban or try to over regulate into oblivion then? Just a few decades ago, the “rocket scientists” were warning us of global cooling, then it was global warming … and now “climate change.” They money would be better spent giving it to Elon to figure a way to start an airline to Mars before it’s too late.

  3. Has anyone noticed that with the greatly reduced amount of air traffic, and also ground traffic that we are going through a heat wave?

    • Exactly, it’s climate change, so we have to do something.

      You see? It’s easy to to just add government in response to anything. The trick is to catch it when they want to add some you desire and try to figure out how you could instead fix the problem by taking some away.

  4. Great! I’m pleased to see that the United States has not entirely lost the ability to respond constructively to long-term problems. I don’t have the expertise to evaluate the details of this proposed rule, and what it means to be consistent with international version of this rule, but I am confident that climate change is happening, human actions cause it, and that human actions can reduce the suffering it causes. As with COVID-19, so with climate change: denying the problem does not cause the problem to stop existing.

  5. Ever hear of “tragedy of the commons”? (See the Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons.) The commons here is the atmosphere, and dumping CO2 into it is in everyone’s personal self-interest because it allows business as usual. No individual contribution makes a measurable difference. But with all of us put together, we’ll render places where a lot of people live uninhabitable in another 50 years or so.

    Spare me the climate change denial. The physics of how atmospheric CO2 and methane trap heat has been understood for over a century and the record of increasing CO2 levels and *average* temperatures is perfectly clear. References to a current heat wave or last winter’s cold snap or whatever are the worst form of cherry-picked data. The ice caps only care about long term averages, and it’s real clear what’s going on there.

  6. Anybody doubt that 100LL is next?

    Perhaps that will spur actual progress on the so far mythical drop in replacement fuel….

    • After two decades of intense research, all we have learned is that there is NO chemistry that yields a fungible, miscible drop-in alternative to 100LL.

      I’m moving my portfolio heavily into extension cords.