EPA Challenged Over Global Warming Pollution From Ships, Aircraft and Non-road Engines

For Immediate Release

Environmental Groups
Contact: 

Sarah Burt, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6755, sburt@earthjustice.org
Eric Bilsky, Oceana, (202) 833-3900 x 1912, ebilsky@oceana.org
Danielle Fugere, Friends of the Earth, (415) 577-5594
Vera Pardee, Center for Biological Diversity, (858) 717-1448, vpardee@biologicaldiversity.org
Dan Galpern, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 359-3243, galpern@westernlaw.org

EPA Challenged Over Global Warming Pollution From Ships, Aircraft and Non-road Engines

WASHINGTON - A day after the U.S. Senate voted to uphold the Environmental
Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, a coalition
of environmental groups has filed a lawsuit challenging the agency’s
failure to address such pollution from oceangoing ships, aircraft and
non-road vehicles as well as engines used in industrial operations. The
lawsuit was filed in federal district court in the District of Columbia by
Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of
Oceana, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, the
Center for Food Safety and the International Center for Technology
Assessment.

Together, aircraft, ship and non-road
vehicles and engines are responsible for 24 percent of U.S.
mobile-source greenhouse gas emissions and emit approximately 290,000
tons of soot every year. Pollution from these sources is projected to
grow rapidly over coming decades.

“The shipping
industry is a major contributor to global warming pollution. Annual
U.S. shipping emissions are equivalent to from 130 million to 195
million cars. These emissions are on track to triple over the next 20
years. It is time for the EPA to issue commonsense rules – like
requiring fuel-efficient cruising speeds – to control the pollution
from this important sector,” said Eric Bilsky, Oceana assistant general
counsel.

The coalition petitioned EPA in late 2007
and early 2008 to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions from
marine vessels, aircraft and non-road vehicles and engines endanger
public health and welfare, and if so, to issue regulations to control
greenhouse gas emissions from these sources. Despite having had more
than two years to do so, EPA has not responded to the petitions.

“Yesterday
Congress rejected an attempt to strip EPA of its authority to protect
the public from global warming pollution,” said Sarah Burt of
Earthjustice, who is representing the coalition. “EPA has a clear moral
obligation and legal duty under the Clean Air Act to act decisively to
protect public health and the environment on which all Americans
depend.”

“The Clean Air Act works to reduce
dangerous pollution like greenhouse gas emissions, and it must be
implemented immediately,” said Vera Pardee, a senior attorney at the
Center for Biological Diversity. “The Clean Air Act has protected the
air we breathe for 40 years, reaping economic benefits 42 times its
cost. Cost-effective solutions to achieve significant greenhouse gas
pollution reductions from ships, airplanes and non-road engines already
exist. The Obama administration needs to move forward far more quickly
to implement them to avoid devastating climate disruption. Delaying
commonsense pollution-reduction measures is the wrong policy and wrong
on the law.” 

“The evidence of climate change is
becoming clearer each and every day,” said Danielle Fugere, regional
program director for Friends of the Earth. “We can no longer afford the
EPA’s refusal to address important and growing sources of greenhouse
gas emissions.”

“EPA needs to shift into high gear
and limit the impact that industrial non-road vehicles and engines
impose on our common airshed,” said Dan Galpern, an attorney with the
Western Environmental Law Center. “Even the Bush EPA admitted that
climate pollution could be slashed from overpowered diesel engines used
in industrial operations, if it chose to do so. Now EPA, at long last,
is restricting climate pollution from cars and light trucks and certain
stationary sources. But the climate crisis will not be allayed without
the maximum achievable reduction in GHG emissions. This requires
reasonable restrictions on monster earth movers, heavy mining and
logging equipment, agricultural pumps and other industrial machinery
that presently spew climate pollution without end.”

Background

Aviation and Global Warming
Aircraft emit 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from U.S.
transportation sources and 3 percent of the United States’ total
greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is responsible for nearly half of worldwide CO2
emissions from aircraft. Such emissions are anticipated to increase
substantially in the coming decades due to the projected growth in air
transport; in fact, according to the Federal Aviation Administration,
greenhouse gas emissions from domestic aircraft are expected to
increase 60 percent by 2025. While some countries, such as the European
Union, have already begun to respond to these challenges, the United
States has failed to address this enormous source of emissions.

Ships and Global Warming
In 2008, marine vessels entering U.S. ports accounted for 4.5 percent
of domestic mobile-source greenhouse gas emissions. The global fleet of
marine vessels releases almost 3 percent of the world’s CO2,
an amount comparable to the total greenhouse gas emissions of Canada.
Because of their huge numbers and inefficient operating practices,
marine vessels release a large volume of CO2,
nitrous oxide, and black carbon, or soot. If fuel use remains
unchanged, shipping pollution will potentially double from 2002 levels
by the year 2020 and triple by 2030. Despite their impact on the global
climate, greenhouse gas emissions from ships are not currently
regulated by the United States or internationally.

Non-road Vehicles and Engines and Global Warming
Non-road vehicles and engines are used in the agricultural,
construction, commercial, industrial, mining and logging sectors. In
2008, such industrial non-road vehicles and engines were responsible
for approximately 9 percent of U.S. mobile source carbon dioxide
emissions, as well as significant emissions of black carbon, or soot.
Nearly a third of these emissions are produced by the construction and
mining sectors, while a fifth are from agriculture. EPA projects that CO2 emissions from the non-road sector will increase approximately 46 percent between 2006 and 2030.

 

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