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The EPA Just Took a Big Step Toward Regulating Airplane Emissions

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An A380 Airbus leaves behind a trail of vapor.Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday finalized its determination that greenhouse gases from airplanes endangers public health, a decision that requires the agency to regulate emissions from U.S. aircraft.

“Addressing pollution from aircraft is an important element of U.S. efforts to address climate change,” EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said in a news release.

U.S. aircraft are the third-biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions from the domestic transportation sector and are projected to rise without future curbs, McCabe said.


The endangerment finding triggers the EPA to start a rule-making process for greenhouse gas emission standard for aircraft.

The EPA said an aircraft standard would be “at least as stringent” as the one developed by the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is expected to be formally adopted by March next year.

Greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft come primarily from engines on large commercial jets.