EPA Proposes Regulating Greenhouse Gases

Madhu Unnikrishnan madhu_unnikrishnan@aviationweek.com

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to register six greenhouse gases as air pollutants that endanger public health, and although the proposal currently governs only motor vehicle emissions, it is very likely it will be extended to all transportation emissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court last April ordered the EPA to do a scientific review of the role GHGs play in climate change. On Friday, EPA proposed to add regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act. "This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations," Administrator Lisa Jackson said. "The pollution problem has a solution -- one that will create millions of green jobs."

The proposed endangerment addresses six gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous dioxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

The airline industry represented by ATA says one of these, cabon dioxide, is the subject of intense focus by the industry, as it is directly related to fuel burn. "We remain committed to continuing efforts to minimize fuel burn and resulting emissions," said Nancy Young, ATA vice president for environmental affairs. The proposal did not surprise ATA, but the group hopes "to work productively with EPA and the Congress to shape greenhouse gas policy going forward," said Young.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is said to be working on cap-and-trade legislation as a companion to the proposal submitted by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) earlier this month. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, cheered the EPA's finding, adding that "we have lost eight years in this fight. The Clean Air Act provides EPA with an effective toolbox for cutting greenhouse gas emissions right now."

Photo credit: Airbus

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