A U.S. appeals court on Friday rejected a challenge to the first federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, which environmental groups and several Democrat-led states have insisted are too lenient.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the Environmental Protection Agency adequately considered issues like climate change when crafting the rules for commercial and large business planes.
Circuit Judge Neomi Rao, writing for the court, said the decision to not adopt stricter rules rested on the "reasonable judgment that the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally would be to align with international standards."
Three environmental groups, 12 states and the District of Columbia sued in 2021 saying that the EPA's regulations "by EPA's own analysis, will reduce no emissions whatsoever and will prompt no improvements to airplanes' emissions reduction technology."
Liz Jones, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the environmental groups, said aviation pollution will keep rising as a result of the EPA's "do nothing" regulatory approach.
The EPA said it is reviewing the decision. The states, including California, Illinois and New York, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization's standards were agreed to in 2016. They are "technology-following," meaning they do not set unachievable standards with the hopes of spurring future innovations, the court said.
The U.S. rules were finalized in January 2021 in the final days of the Trump administration, with industry support. The Biden administration said it would not rewrite the rules but would press for more ambitious international standards.
The United States has set a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. aviation sector by 2050.
(Reporting by Clark Mindock, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Richard Chang)