Jan. 17, 2021 – SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) led a multi-state coalition in filing a lawsuit on Friday Challenging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft to levels that would not result in a reduction in emissions compared to normal business operations. The aviation industry is the largest unregulated source of greenhouse gases in the United States, contributing 12% to total transport-related emissions. Given the long lead time it takes manufacturers to develop new aircraft designs, the EPA’s final rule would set meaningless standards for years – as the climate emergency keeps getting worse. In today’s lawsuit, the coalition argues that the rule is arbitrary, capricious, and illegal.
“The aerospace industry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, but the EPA has set standards here that reflect doing nothing.” said Attorney General Becerra. “If we want to tackle the climate crisis sensibly, everyone must do their part. No sector, certainly not one that makes a significant contribution to greenhouse gases, should receive a free pass if it does not take meaningful measures to limit emissions. ”
“Many aircraft already meet this standard, and even the US EPA admits that it is unlikely that greenhouse gas emissions will actually be reduced.” said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “These standards are far too weak to accelerate investments in more fuel-efficient aircraft and engines, and they are more than a decade behind existing aircraft technologies. The projected growth in greenhouse gas emissions in aviation requires science-based standards and robust analysis, which unfortunately continue to be ignored by the current government. “
Aviation emissions are a significant source of total global greenhouse gas emissions and the United States is the single largest emitter. Globally, the aviation industry is responsible for around 2.4% of all carbon dioxide emissions and 12% of all greenhouse gas emissions from all transport sources. The United States contributes more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, and its emissions from aircraft alone are higher than total greenhouse gas emissions in more than 150 countries. Greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. aircraft are projected to increase by 43% over the next two decades, and global aviation emissions are projected to triple by 2050 unless governments and industry take aggressive action.
Pursuant to Section 231 of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is empowered and instructed to issue appropriate emission standards for hazardous pollutants from aircraft engines based on an appropriate assessment of the contribution of aircraft to greenhouse gas emissions and the technological feasibility of emissions controls. Tightening emissions standards would not only benefit public health and the environment now, but could also lead to long-term savings for consumers and help US-made aircraft become more competitive in markets where robust greenhouse gas emissions standards are being introduced.
However, last month the EPA set standards that are more than 10 years behind existing technology and that would not result in any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to normal business operations. In fact, the EPA hasn’t even considered any form of emissions control that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite noting that those emissions pose a threat to public health and the environment. The EPA has also failed to take into account the benefits of GHG regulation and the impact of aircraft pollution on environmental justice. Aircraft emit particulates, nitrogen oxides and dangerous air pollutants. Residents who live within 16 km of airports, which include disproportionately disadvantaged minorities and low-income communities, are exposed to large amounts of these harmful pollutants through emissions from aircraft landing and take-off processes.
In the lawsuit, the coalition seeks to argue that the EPA acted arbitrarily, capriciously and illegally by passing a rule that:
- Cannot reduce emissions beyond what is usual at all.
- Delays existing technology by a decade; and
- Exempt from considering more effective alternatives.
In October 2020, Attorney General Becerra and CARB led a multi-state coalition to urge the EPA to tighten standards regulating greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft and other aircraft.
Attorney General Becerra and CARB jointly file today the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
You can find a copy of the lawsuit here.
Source: CA. DOJ