The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Liz Jones,

100 Groups Demand EPA Set Protective Airplane-Pollution Limits


The Center for Biological Diversity and more than 100 allies submitted comments today opposing the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed particulate matter pollution standards for aircraft.

The rule adopts the same standards developed in an industry-led process by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, which intentionally lag behind existing pollution-reduction technologies. The EPA has admitted it doesn't expect any pollution reductions from the rule.

"By deferring to the aviation industry, the EPA is letting a major public-health protection opportunity fly right by," said Liz Jones, an attorney at the Center's Climate Law Institute. "Communities near airports are bombarded every day with deadly pollution, and the agency seems content to do nothing about it."

The proposed rule is the EPA's first attempt to set particulate matter standards for planes since the early 1980s, when it finalized "smoke standards" focused on improving visibility. Since then, particle pollution from smoke and soot has been linked to asthma, cardiovascular disease, declines in brain function and even death. Aviation particulate matter is responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year, with health harms falling disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color.

This is not the first time the agency has deferred to ICAO and refused to set meaningful airplane-pollution standards. The Biden administration is fighting a lawsuit brought by environmental groups and a dozen states challenging the first aircraft greenhouse gas emissions standards, which won't reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must reduce emissions of harmful pollutants that endanger public health and welfare.

"The Biden administration can't keep up this charade of environmental protection while communities choke on jet exhaust," said Jones. "It's disgraceful and illegal for the EPA to rubber-stamp another weak airplane pollution rule."

The groups are calling on the agency to set stricter standards. They describe an array of actions the EPA can take to reduce aviation emissions, including requiring airplane manufacturers to use pollution-control technologies that are already widely available, accounting for operational improvements, and setting a fleet-wide standard.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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