US environmental group Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has sued the White House for records of its alleged failure to develop greenhouse gas emission standards and its participation in the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) carbon dioxide rulemaking process.
The CBD is seeking access to emails and documents sent between the government, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency that mention the UN programme, including all communications between “United States officials, the Boeing Company and/or any other aircraft manufacturer or airline, and the ICAO”.
The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on 16 September, says that the communications were requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in February this year, but the Trump administration has yet to release them.
“Americans deserve to know what backroom deals might be killing efforts to curb dangerous airplane pollution,” William Snape, senior counsel at the CBD’s Climate Law institute, who is leading the litigation, said in a statement. “By shirking its legal duty to address airplane emissions, the Trump administration is slipping the aviation industry a free pass to dirty our air and heat up the planet.”
Under the US Clean Air Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting limits on air pollutants in the US and regulating the composition of fuels and emission-control components on various types of vehicles, including aircraft.
A recent CBD report alleged that the aviation industry is expected to produce 43 metric gigatons of CO2 between 2016 and 2050, which would account for more than 4% of the world’s available carbon. Another report claimed that US carriers’ fuel use went up by 7% between 2014 and 2016, essentially cancelling out efficiency gains of 3%, adding that airlines could reduce fuel use and carbon pollution by over 25% by investing in newer planes.
“The aviation industry’s supposed commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint is clearly a sham,” Snape said. “That’s why we need strong federal climate rules that actually cut airplanes’ skyrocketing emissions.”