Airplane emissions contribute to global warming

A phenomenon often blamed, in part, on pollution from cars. But now environmentalists are warning that the impact of airplanes on climate change is going to get much worse.

The airline industry is growing fast -- so much so, that the FAA expects greenhouse gas emissions from domestic aircraft to increase by 60 percent by 2025.

Environmental groups say that number is so alarming they want the federal government to do something about it.

They plan to file a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency tomorrow.

Alice Thomas is an attorney with Oakland-based Earthjustice.

"These numbers you'll see increasing going forward, and in order to address these increasing emissions going forward EPA is going to need to look at it today," said Alice Thomas from Earthjustice.

State attorney General Jerry Brown is filing a similar petition in coordination with four other states and the District of Columbia.

Both coalitions want the EPA to develop rules requiring manufacturers to build lighter, more aerodynamic planes, while requiring operators to use cleaner fuels and streamline operations to improve fuel efficiency.

ABC7 Aviation Consultant Ron Wilson says while he applauds the idea, it may not be so practical.

"There's even talk about towing airplanes out to the end of the runway and not start them, not start the engines until the aircraft is number one or number two in take-off, that has been talked about but it's a very inefficient way to run the operation," said ABC7 Aviation consultant Ron Wilson.

The EPA says it will review the petitions after they're filed, but defended its efforts to combat global warming.

The Air Transport Association, which represents the country's major airlines, says changes in regulations aren't necessary.

"The commercial airlines are already driven to be fuel efficient and environmentally conscious as possible. In fact the U.S. airlines have improved their fuel efficiency by 103 percent since 1978," said Elizabeth Merida from the Air Transport Association.

If the EPA doesn't respond to the petition in 180 days, then the environmental groups plan to file a lawsuit, in hopes that a court would force the agency to impose new aviation regulations.

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