The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a proposed endangerment finding saying that greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft pose a threat to public health and welfare.
The June 10 announcement, which does not address the issue of lead in aviation fuel and includes an exemption for small piston-powered aircraft, is the first in a series of steps the EPA needs to take before it can propose greenhouse gas emissions standards for aircraft.
In addition to the endangerment finding, the EPA on June 10 issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. That notice is designed to gather more information that the agency could use in developing regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft.
The most common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Many of these gases are produced by burning fossil fuels and are believed to be a key factor in global warming.
“This proposed finding is related specifically to emissions from commercial aircraft rather than general aviation, but we’ll continue to monitor the process very closely,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “Moving from a proposed endangerment finding to regulation is a long, complex process, so we aren’t likely to see the final outcome of this issue for years to come.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has said it will announce global emissions goals next year. It is not yet clear what those standards might look like and whether the EPA would try to align any U.S. emissions regulations with those ICAO goals.