Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 15, 2017

Contact:  Vera Pardee, (858) 717-1448,

Why Did Trump Ditch Airplane Pollution Standards?

Records Sought on EPA's Work Stoppage on Plan to Curb Aircraft Emissions

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a Freedom of Information Act request yesterday seeking records related to the EPA’s decision to stop work on an aircraft carbon dioxide emissions standard.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has quietly deactivated an initiative to implement a carbon emissions reduction requirement for jet engines in new plane models. Aircraft are the third largest source of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and their emissions are rising steeply.

“It’s truly troubling that the Trump administration has stopped all work on reducing the airline industry’s skyrocketing carbon emissions,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “We just can’t tackle the climate crisis without confronting airplane carbon pollution. The EPA’s refusal to curb these emissions demonstrates a reckless disregard for climate threats like the monster storms we just saw in Florida and Texas.”

In July 2016, the EPA issued its finding that aircraft greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change and endanger public health and welfare. This determination requires officials to set limitations on airplane pollution under the Clean Air Act. This year, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to aircraft emission standards, though they fall short of what the industry is projected to achieve regardless. If the US does not set standards at least as stringent as those of the international community, US manufacturers must seek hard-to-get exemptions for their aircraft to fly outside of the US, unless their planes comply with the ICAO standards voluntarily.

In 2010, the Center and allies successfully sued to compel the EPA to determine whether airplane emissions endanger human health and welfare. The EPA finally made that determination in 2016.

“Every other country on earth has already agreed to airline emission standards that at least prevent serious backsliding,” said Pardee. “Trump’s destructive conduct threatens our planet and undermines American business interests and technological leadership.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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