The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a proposal to adopt the first-ever Clean Air Act (CAA) emission standards for greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by aircraft. EPA’s proposal flows from the agency’s 2016 findings that GHG emissions from the engines of certain aircraft “cause or contribute to” elevated GHG concentrations in the atmosphere, which endanger the public health and welfare via climate change. These twin findings form the basis for regulation of a pollutant under Clean Air Act section 231(a), the legal foundation for EPA’s authority to propose the rule. The proposal came after environmental groups in January sent the EPA a notice of intent to sue regarding the agency’s allegedly “unreasonable delay” in promulgating standards following those findings, although it is unclear whether that prompted agency action. Comments on the proposal are due on or before October 19, 2020.
The proposed rule would apply to manufacturers of new, larger aircraft beginning either retroactively to January 1, 2020 for “new” models of aircraft that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet type certificated, or in 2028 for most “in-production” models that already have such certification.
The proposed rule would not apply to certain smaller aircraft or those covered by various exemptions and exceptions identified in the proposed rule.