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EPA not ready to act on aviation, marine GHGs

19 Jun 2012, 8.04 pm GMT

Washington, 19 June (Argus) — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not intend to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aircraft, marine vessels and other non-road vehicles engines in the near future, citing a lack of resources to effectively undertake the rule-makings.

EPA spelled out its reasoning in 15 June memos to environmental groups that had petitioned the agency to regulate GHG emissions from non-road engines and vehicles. The groups petitioned the agency in 2007 and 2008 and then sued EPA in US District Court in 2010. The court in March ordered EPA to respond to the various petitions within 90 days.

The agency said it does intend to start a process for determining whether aircraft emissions endanger public health and welfare, a step needed before it can issue regulations. But it will wait for the outcome of pending litigation against other GHG regulations before considering aircraft emissions.

EPA “cannot rule out the possibility” that the court's decision could have major implications “on the timing of any future endangerment rulemaking regarding aircraft as well as for resources regarding how EPA approaches the science and procedure of a finding for aircraft,” the agency said.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in several lawsuits against EPA's tailoring rule for stationary source permits, its motor vehicle rule and endangerment finding for GHG emissions from automobiles. A decision has not yet been issued.

On marine vessels and other non-road vehicles and engines, EPA said it does not believe addressing these sources now would be a good use of limited resources and would “detract from addressing more pressing environmental issues in the mobile source area.”

Non-road and marine sources accounted for 4pc of US GHG emissions and 14pc of mobile source emissions in 2010. Aviation accounts for about 3pc of total US emissions.

The environmental groups said they were disappointed by EPA's response to their petitions and are considering their options, including possible legal action.

“We will continue to press EPA in one fashion or another until it enacts common sense carbon reduction measures for these important sectors. The delay is a real shame but it will happen eventually – pollution reduction rules for these sources are a total no-brainer,” said Kassie Segal, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute.

The district court lawsuit was filed 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.

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