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Attorney General William Tong

10/20/2020

Attorney General Tong Opposes “Zero Benefit” Trump Administration Plan to Lock In Dangerous Levels of Airplane Greenhouse Gas Emissions

United States Responsible for Over One Quarter of Global Aviation Emissions

(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition of 12 attorneys general filing comments opposing an unlawful Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan that would lock in dangerously high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from airplanes. The Clean Air Act directs the EPA to issue emissions standards for dangerous pollutants, including emissions from aircraft engines. Recently, the EPA put forward an entirely insufficient proposal that would result in no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA concedes the plan has no benefit. In the comment letter, the coalition argues that this proposal fails to fulfill the EPA’s obligations under the Clean Air Act and must be abandoned in favor of strong new standards.

“We cannot afford to waste time on meaningless regulations that do absolutely nothing to protect our air and climate. Absurd rules like this one come nowhere close to meeting the urgent moment of our worsening climate crisis. The United States produces more than one quarter of all global aviation emissions—a serious threat to our climate that this rule seeks to cement rather than address. This rule is an unlawful abdication of the EPA’s obligations under the Clean Air Act. We need to invest now in new engine technology and renewable fuel sources to drive down emissions and keep our airline industry competitive,” said Attorney General Tong.

Aviation emissions are a significant source of the world’s total GHG emissions, and the United States is the single largest emitter. We produce more than one quarter of all global aviation emissions. GHG emissions from U.S. aircraft are expected to grow 43 percent in the next two decades, and globally, aviation emissions are expected to triple by 2050 unless governments and industry take aggressive action.

Strengthening emission standards now would benefit public health and the environment, and also lead to future fuel savings that could be used to develop new technology and lower airfare. However, the EPA has proposed standards that lag behind existing technology by more than 10 years and would result in no GHG reductions at all. In fact, the EPA has not even considered any form of emission control that would reduce GHGs, despite its determination that these emissions endanger public health and the environment. The EPA also fails to consider the co-benefits of GHG regulation and the environmental justice impacts of pollution from aircrafts in its proposal.

In the comment letter, the coalition urges the EPA to issue strong new standards, and argues that the proposed standards are an unlawful violation of the EPA’s obligations under the Clean Air Act.

Assistant Attorneys General William Dornbos and Matt Levine, Head of the Environment Department, assisted the Attorney General in this matter.

Attorney General William Tong joins the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the California Air Resources Board, in filing the comment letter.

A copy of the comment letter can be found here.

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