As reported by multiple outlets, yesterday California joined with other states, cities, and environmental groups in asking the EPA to regulate airplane emissions under the Clean Air Act, in keeping with the Supreme Court's ruling that CO2 is a pollutant. The San Francisco Chronicle notes that while the aviation industry is responding by claiming it's going as fast as it can (sound familiar?) on the issue of cleaner-emitting jets, environmental groups aren't buying it:
"Aviation greenhouse gas emissions are increasing faster than voluntary improvements in fuel efficiency," said Alice Thomas, an attorney with Earthjustice, the San Francisco legal group that filed the petition on behalf of the environmental groups.
Some changes in aircraft operations that could occur now include reducing how long planes are allowed to idle, using only one engine when taxiing and better controlling engine thrusts during takeoffs and landings.
Airlines could use improved technology and design to reduce the weight and drag of their planes, which would reduce the use of fuel. Airplanes could be lightened and streamlined if they were made using lightweight composite materials and differently designed wings and propellers, the environmentalists' petition said.
That petition cites strides in aeronautic research, including the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will be in the air beginning next year. The plane is made of lightweight carbon composite, uses some new engine technologies and is 20 percent more fuel efficient than aircraft of similar size, the petition said.
The petitions, which can be found here (the state's petition) and here (environmental groups), are the second such effort spearheaded by California in recent months; a similar coalition has also asked EPA to limit the emissions originating from international shipping in U.S. ports.
And while we're on the subject of countering industry distortions, readers should note that the California Attorney General's office also just revitalized its global warming homepage. It comes complete with not only user-friendly guides to understanding key environmental laws at the heart of current litigation, but a page dedicated to "Debunking Myths of the Auto Industry."