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Airplane Emissions Threat, Says EPA

It has been a long time coming, but the EPA now says greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft endanger public health. (Wo St 01 via wiki)
It has been a long time coming, but the EPA now says greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft endanger public health. (Wo St 01 via wiki)
July 26, 2016

BOSTON - Greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft engines endanger public health and welfare, that's according to a new finding from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The endangerment finding documents the magnitude of a problem that environmentalists have been urging the agency to tackle for almost a decade.

According to Vera Pardee, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity, under the Clean Air Act, the agency now is required to act.

"EPA must set emission standards to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are produced by the thousands of aircraft crossing our skies every day," she said.

The EPA's study found that U.S. aircraft are responsible for almost 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from all aircraft globally.

If commercial aviation were considered a country, it would rank seventh in the world for carbon emissions, according to the Center. Pardee noted that a recent Center for Biological Diversity report found that if nothing is done, aircraft will generate 43 gigatonnes of planet-warming pollution by 2050.

"That number alone would put us far above what we can handle as far as not exceeding the temperature threshold that allows us to continue to live on this planet as we would like," she added.

Earlier this year the International Civil Aviation Organization recommended standards for carbon pollution for aircraft, but Pardee said they are far short of what can be done. A recent report from the International Council on Clean Transportation showed that some of the top 20 transatlantic air carriers could cut emission by up to 51 percent with existing technology and operational improvements.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA