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PNS Daily Newscast - October 21, 2020 

A new report sizes up swing states like Michigan; voters with disabilities face new obstacles in Election 2020.

2020Talks - October 21, 2020 

Democrats weigh boycotting the committee vote on Trump's Supreme Court nominee; and concerns over mail slowdowns in 10 battleground states.

Air(line) Pollution: A Hot Air Holiday?

December 6, 2007

Seattle, WA – "Home for the holidays" may mean more climate change pollution here at home in Washington. A group of cities, states, and environmental organizations has filed petitions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asking to do more to rein in pollution from U.S. flights, which create nearly half of the world's aircraft carbon dioxide pollution. Big airports like SeaTac, with 340,000 takeoffs and landings a year, aren't helping.

Earthjustice attorney Alice Thomas, who is working on the case, says the problem is more than jet engines producing the pollution, called "NOX." It's where they're producing it that complicates things.

"When NOX is emitted 3 to 5 miles above the earth's surface, it's particularly effective at forming ozone, which traps heat on the earth's surface."

The petitions ask for federal rules to reduce aircraft emissions. The E.P.A. has six months to respond. The airline industry believes its voluntary fuel efficiency standards are sufficient, and that its emissions are a small part of the global warming problem.

Thomas explains airport operations and air traffic control could make changes that would keep planes from idling and circling, to reduce pollution. She agrees the airlines have made some progress, but says it's not enough.

"While the aviation industry has set its own goals for fuel efficiency going forward, there's no certainty that they'll meet those goals, and if they don't meet those goals, there's no penalty for them."

SeaTac Airport is the 17th busiest in the nation. The airport's website even offers carbon credits, called "Green Tags," that travelers can purchase to help offset the global warming pollution that flying creates.

Chris Thomas/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - WA