As proponents of climate change legislation make cutting America’s production of greenhouse gases a high priority this year, engine emissions—including those of general aviation aircraft—have come under scrutiny. But the House of Representatives removed a provision from its climate change bill that would have granted new authority to regulate aircraft engine emissions.
An early version of the climate change legislation would have given the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator the authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards for new aircraft and new aircraft engines, but the section was removed before the bill went to the floor. The House narrowly passed the bill before the Fourth of July recess, and the Senate has begun hearings that could lead to its own bill in the fall. AOPA has submitted comments to the EPA in the past regarding a ruling that could lead to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from many sources, including aircraft, under the Clean Air Act, and told the agency again in June that piston GA aircraft are not significant contributors to carbon dioxide emissions.
Emissions criteria currently exist for turbine aircraft but not piston-powered aircraft, which account for only one-tenth of 1 percent of transportation greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation that was passed does not introduce any new authority for setting emissions standards that would apply to piston-powered GA aircraft, although it would give the EPA administrator authority to establish provisions for averaging, banking, and trading of greenhouse gas emissions credits.
AOPA has been involved in establishing guiding principles for addressing aviation’s role in climate change, maintaining that any regulatory action must consider both costs and benefits and that new regulations must be based on sound science. The association cooperated with 19 other aviation organizations to produce a joint industry paper early this year outlining guidelines for addressing environmental issues in aviation.