EPA Limits GHG Emissions for Climate Change Purposes Except as to Commercial Aircraft, but Why?

In the waning days of the Trump administration, EPA adopted an Aircraft Rule for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) which did not lower emissions at all for commercial aircraft. Instead, EPA simply adopted standards set earlier by a UN affiliate – the International Civil Aviation Organization. In adopting this Aircraft Rule, the EPA opted to preserve the previously agreed to international “status quo” standards, which resulted in no net reduction of GHG emissions from aircraft.

A number of states, including California and Oregon, filed one suit and several Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGOs”) filed a second suit challenging EPA’s adoption of this “no net reduction” standard. The plaintiffs noted that earlier in 2016 EPA found that such GHG emissions constituted an endangerment to health. Under the Biden Administration, EPA continued to stand by the Aircraft Rule and oppose the challengers. The two suits were consolidated, briefed, argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. They were submitted for determination on October 6, 2022. No decision has yet been issued by the Court of Appeals.

In an article published by the American Bar Association, Norman Dupont and Sage Ertman of Ring Bender discuss why EPA took this position and the legal challenges it faces here.