31 July 2020

EPA Issues Proposed Rule Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions From U.S. Aircraft

On July 22, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to promulgate regulations governing carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide (collectively, GHGs) emissions from American aircraft under the Agency’s Clean Air Act (CAA) section 231 authority. This is the first such rule from the Agency covering aircraft GHG emissions. The ANPR proposes GHG standards for U.S. aircraft that are consistent with those adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017, which EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration helped to develop. EPA does not anticipate that the proposed standards will reduce fuel burn or GHG emissions beyond the current baseline because existing or expected aircraft fuel efficiency technologies that formed the basis of the 2017 ICAO standards already demonstrate technological feasibility.

The proposed standards would apply to subsonic jet aircraft and subsonic propeller-driven aircraft designed on or after January 1, 2020, and to in-production aircraft on or after January 1, 2028. Smaller turboprop, jet aircraft, and military aircraft are not covered; aircraft of any kind already manufactured and in use by January 1, 2020, would also not be covered. EPA has stated in its ANPR that implementing these emissions standards will permit American aircraft to be marketed and sold internationally, as nations may ban use of aircraft within their airspace that are not at least as stringent as the ICAO standards. EPA’s proposal builds on its 2016 finding that concentrations of six well-mixed greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations and that GHGs emitted from certain classes of aircraft engines cause or contribute to that air pollution. The Agency will take public comment for 60 days once the ANPR is published in the Federal Register.