EPA Finalizes First Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Aircraft

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for airplanes used in commercial aviation and large business jets. The agency’s action aligns national standards for carbon dioxide emissions with those set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), “ensuring domestically manufactured aircraft remain competitive in the global marketplace,” the EPA’s press release stated. The agency further explained that approximately three-fourths of aircraft manufactured in the United States are sold overseas.

The announcement also touted the rule as the fourth one regulating GHGs propounded by the Trump Administration, cementing, the agency claimed, its “record of reducing the most GHGs in U.S. history.” The other rules include the President’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle rule, and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for Oil and Gas.

According to the press release, many aircraft manufactured by U.S. companies already meet ICAO standards, the current version of which was adopted in 2017. Based on the manufacturers’ expectation that the ICAO standards will be executed globally, the EPA predicts that nearly all covered aircraft will be compliant by the effective dates.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler remarked that, “[t]he U.S. leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and today’s historic action that finalizes the first-ever GHG standard for aircraft will continue this trend. This is the fourth concrete final regulation the Trump Administration’s pragmatic approach to climate action has produced meaningful results without unnecessarily sacrificing American jobs or important domestic industries like our aircraft manufacturers.”

For its part, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) welcomed the decision. In a press release, the agency stated that implementing the rule will place “U.S. engine and airframe manufacturers on a level playing field with manufacturers in other countries that have adopted the international standard.”