Arrogance at the EPA
EPA Takes Aim at Airline Emissions
…The Wall Street Journal – June 10, 2015…
WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday took its first step toward regulating carbon emissions from airlines, one of a string of actions by the Obama administration expected this summer to address climate change with rules covering swaths of the U.S. economy.
The EPA issued a draft scientific assessment finding that carbon emissions from airlines contribute to climate change, laying the foundation for the agency to eventually regulate those emissions.
The EPA said Wednesday that any regulations, which won’t be promulgated until possibly early 2017, would be implemented in coordination with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a branch of the United Nations, which is drafting a global standard for airline carbon emissions.
Aviation today represents about 2% of total global carbon emissions, and global air travel is growing at about 5% each year, according to Boeing Co. , outpacing industry improvements in reducing its carbon footprint. The U.S. is the largest contributor to global aviation greenhouse gases.
The industry has long expected to face new regulations on carbon emissions, and manufacturers have urged a global approach, for fear of uneven regulation for a product that is designed to cross borders.
Airlines for America, the trade association representing U.S. airlines and air cargo carriers, said it was pleased that the EPA was working within the coming ICAO framework to develop a global carbon standard for new aircraft.
“Aviation is a global industry, making it critical that aircraft emission standards continue to be agreed upon at the international level,” said Nancy Young, the group’s vice president for environmental affairs. She noted that U.S. aviation’s fuel efficiency has improved by 120% since 1978. The group also said U.S. airlines carried 20% more passengers and cargo in 2014 compared to 2000, but emitted 8% less carbon dioxide.
In 2009, the International Air Transport Association, a global trade group, agreed to achieve carbon-neutral growth by 2020, meaning any future growth in air travel wouldn’t produce a net increase in carbon emissions. Then, from 2020 through 2050, the industry aims to reduce its 2005 emission levels by half, largely through the use of sustainable fuels. The effort for broad adoption has been slowed by low refinery capacity, limited sustainable feedstock to create the fuels and a high price relative to today’s jet fuel, but manufacturer and airline support of an alternative fuel has been high.
Boeing’s efforts with industrial and academic partners to cultivate biofuel and so-called green diesel fuels are “how we retain our license to grow as an industry,” said Juile Felgar, Boeing’s managing director of environmental strategy. A Boeing spokesman said it would review the EPA’s report.
Wednesday’s EPA announcement, like other Obama administration climate moves, is likely to face congressional and legal challenges. Republican lawmakers decried the jet-fuel rule as more evidence of President Barack Obama’s regulatory overreach.
“Aviation emissions aren’t a risk to the Americans and their jobs, but the EPA is,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.).