Oregon Aviation Watch Challenges Legality of Hillsboro Airport Third Runway

January 16, 2015

In late July of 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Oregon Aviation Watch's request for an injunction pending appeal on the construction of a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO). Following that decision the Port of Portland chose to move forward with the expansion before awaiting the court's decision on the broader issue of potential induced impacts due to increased demand. Even though the runway has now been built, the Court has yet to rule on the possibility of irreparable harm and significant environmental impacts due to the actual usage of the runway.

In our ongoing quest to insure public accountability, restore livability, and protect the environment, Oregon Aviation Watch is continuing with its appeal. Towards this end, it is urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to once again remand the case to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As noted by the Ninth Circuit Court in a 2011 opinion, when the proposed expansion was first remanded:

"It strains credulity to claim that increasing HIO's capacity significantly, which in turn would decrease congestion and delay, would have no bearing on the decision of the flight schools, the military, emergency medical services, and businesses and private owners over whether to locate their aircraft at HIO or at other considerably less busy GA airports in the area."[1]

The 2011 Court decision also included the following remarks:

"The agencies [FAA and Port of Portland] are unable to point to anything in the record showing that they in fact considered the possibility that expanding HIO's capacity would lead to increased demand and increased aircraft operations, but discounted it in the face of evidence to the contrary. Furthermore the FAA acknowledged that a new runway is 'the most effective capacity-enhancing feature an airfield can provide,' and repeatedly stated that HIO, a busy reliever airport, must accommodate all GA [General Aviation] activity demand directed towards it...Cumulatively, this record demonstrates that the agencies had independent knowledge of a reasonable possibility that increasing capacity at HIO would lead to increased demand, but chose to gloss over it."[2]

"The agencies [FAA and Port of Portland] cannot point to anything in the record that actually discusses the impact of a third runway on aviation demand at HIO. Tellingly, the Aviation Demand Forecasts chapter of the HIO Master Plan does not even mention the number of runways at HIO in its almost 50 pages, although it recognizes that aviation demand is affected, among other factors, by 'the nature of available facilities.' In essence, the agency would like this court to take their word for it and not question their conclusory assertions in the EA [Environmental Assessment] that a new runway would not increase demand."[3]

In response, the Port of Portland (Port) and FAA submitted a new "Supplemental" Environmental Assessment (SEA) which claimed that their initial Environmental Assessment forecast of airport operations included the growth-inducing effects of a new runway but, at the same time, the Port and FAA submitted a new forecast in the SEA which predicted an induced demand of only 11,350 operations per year and maintained that there would be no significant environmental impact. This conclusion was largely based on a flawed FAA pilot survey that failed to factor in the annual operations generated by the single largest operator at HIO, formerly Hillsboro Aviation's flight training school, now Hillsboro Aero Academy. According to the original environmental assessment, flight training alone accounts for perhaps 68 percent of the approximately quarter of a million annual operations at HIO, thus a failure to factor in the anticipation of flight training growth significantly skews Port/FAA forecasts and assertions. (For further discussion on this topic see pages 13-15 of the Oregon Aviation Watch Reply Brief.[4]) In addition, the FAA's underestimation of potential growth inducing effects conflicts with reports of recently announced and some already completed expansions by current HIO Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) including Hillsboro Aviation (now Hillsboro Aero Academy), Aero Air, and Global Aviation. See pages 4-7 of the testimony submitted by Oregon Aviation Watch for additional details.

Port of Portland Constructs Runway Despite Valid Community Concerns

Instead of waiting for the case to be heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in keeping with their characteristically cavalier attitude towards using public money to promote private business interests, in August of 2014, the Port of Portland (Port) began constructing a publicly funded $17 million third runway primarily for the purpose of accommodating flight training.[5] The major beneficiary is Hillsboro Aero Academy (formerly the Hillsboro Aviation flight school), a business that recruits student pilots from China and other parts of the world to train over area homes and neighborhoods. As a result, local residents routinely bear the brunt of the significant noise and pollution generated by this facility.

Recently Announced Expansion Plans at the Hillsboro Airport

Recent media reports attest to current and future expansion plans at HIO, though none were addressed by the Port or the FAA in the Environmental Assessment, Supplemental Environmental Assessments or Finding of No Significant Impact decision regarding the environmental impacts of the growth inducing effects of adding an additional runway.

  • A $7.6 million hangar was built for the storage of Nike owner, Phil Knight's, Gulfstream V and personal luxury jet,[6] a $65 million Gulfstream G650[7] which "has been touted as Gulfstream's biggest, fastest jet and can reach speeds of Mach 0.85, or more than 90 percent of the speed of sound."[8] Even though Knight is listed as the "44th wealthiest man in the world, with an estimated fortune valued at $19.2 billion"[9] there is no indication that he or other HIO users, contributed any money whatsoever to the third runway infrastructure costs. In fact the public was required to foot the bill primarily through state ConnectOregon and FAA federal handouts. Also of note, Nike reports holding $6.7 billion in off-shore accounts thereby reducing its U.S. tax obligation by more than $2 billion.[10] [11]
  • On 10/16/14 Oregonian reporter Luke Hammill reported on Hillsboro Aviation's plans to build a new hangar at HIO, "The company will invest more than $3 million in the new facility, and the Port will pay as much as $2.3 million for road improvements and utility extensions to open up the north side of the airport."[12] The article did not address where the $2.3 million for "road improvements and utility extensions" will come from but based on previous expansion projects, the Port is likely to foist the cost onto the public.
  • A 12/2/14 Oregonian article reported that Max Lyons, the owner of Hillsboro Aviation, sold the flight training portion of the business to two out of state investment firms - Renovus Capitol and Graycliff Partners. The name of the school will change to Hillsboro Aero Academy but Lyons will continue to help run it.[13]
  • A 12/5/14 Portland Business Journal article described plans under consideration by the Port of Portland to buy another 53 acres adjacent to HIO. Per the report, "The Port could use the land for possible development of aviation operations and future industrial developments."[14]

These explosive growth plans, which were all announced after the FAA issued a finding of no significant impact on adding a third runway at HIO, strongly suggests that the Ninth Circuit was absolutely on the mark in stating that a new runway "has a unique potential to spur demand," yet the Port and FAA briefs totally failed to consider the above mentioned expansions in their initial Environmental Assessment or their subsequent Supplemental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact on this project, thus the potential induced environmental impacts of adding a third runway at HIO have not been addressed.

Oregon Aviation Watch Attorney Submits Legal Briefs

On 8/11/14 Sean Malone, attorney for Oregon Aviation Watch (OAW) and the Petitioners, filed an Opening Brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the expansion. The OAW Reply Brief, in response to arguments put forth by Port of Portland and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was filed on 12/2/14. Both documents can be accessed at http://www.oregonaviationwatch.org/docs/OAW-HIOThirdRunway2014.php.

In the 84 years during which HIO has grown from a grassy airstrip into the largest general aviation airport in the state, the Port of Portland has never taken a hard look or engaged in a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the environmental impacts of this facility by completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). As a result the full impact of HIO, which accommodates the largest flight training school in the Pacific Northwest, and is the largest facility source of lead emissions in the entire state, has never been evaluated. It is noteworthy in this regard that HIO currently ranks 21st in the nation among nearly 20,000 U.S. airports in lead emissions. Though the CDC and EPA both state that there is no safe level of lead in a child's blood, the Port and FAA maintain that HIO, even with their conservative, flawed and inaccurate growth forecasts, is expected to emit 0.8 tons per year of lead by 2016 and 0.9 tons per year by 2021.

In addition, according to EPA documentation, HIO is also a significant source of a number of other air toxics in Washington County including, but not limited to: acrolein, 1,3 butadiene, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, organic carbon particulate matter 2.5, elemental carbon particulate matter 2.5, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter 2.5 and volatile organic compounds. A number of these toxins are known or suspected carcinogens, others are linked with asthma, respiratory disorders, cardiac disease and a host of other debilitating and potentially life threatening health conditions.

Please Donate

We are seeking your support in this all volunteer effort to address the serious environmental, health, and livability degradations resulting from HIO aviation activity. All contributions will go directly towards covering legal costs.

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Oregon Aviation Watch is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. (U.S. tax-exempt number is 27-3131841.)

We are sincerely grateful to all community members who have supported Oregon Aviation Watch and other airport appeals in the past. Your willingness to stand behind this effort is sincerely appreciated. Thank you for your support!

With Appreciation,

Miki Barnes, President of Oregon Aviation Watch
Jim Lubischer, Vice-President of Oregon Aviation Watch

Sources

[1] Barnes vs U.S. Department of Transportation et al. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion No. 10-70718. (8/25/1). Pg. 16286. Available on line at http://www.oregonaviationwatch.org/docs/NinthCircuitCourtOpinion-10-70718.pdf.

[2] Ibid. Pg. 16281-16282.

[3] Ibid. Pg. 16285.

[4] Barnes vs FAA and Port of Portland. No. 14-71180. (12/2/14). Petioners' Reply Brief. Available on-line at http://www.oregonaviationwatch.org/docs/HIO_2014-41-1-Reply_Brief.pdf.

[5] "Next on our plans will be the development of a third runway, which is primarily a shorter runway for training aircraft." (Statement by Mary Maxwell, then Director of Aviation for the Port of Portland, as quoted in the Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Oregon), See Tucker, Libby. A Conversation with Mary Maxwell: The Sky is the Limit. (10/25/06). Available on-line at http://djcoregon.com/news/2006/08/25/a-conversation-with-mary-maxwell-the-sky-is-the-limit/.

[6] Kish, Matthew. Phil Knight Gets a New Hangar for His Private Jet. Portland Business Journal. (7/1/14). Available on-line at http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/threads_and_laces/2014/06/phil-knight-gets-a-new-hangar-for-his-private-jet.html?page=all.

[7] Zhang, Benjamin.Nike Chairman Phil Knight Is Building an Awesome Hangar for His $65 Million Jet. Business Insider. (7/3/14). Available at http://www.businessinsider.com/nike-phil-knight-gulfstream-g650-2014-7.

[8] Hammill, Luke. Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight's New Flight Hangar: Have You Seen It In Hillsboro? Oregonian. (12/16/14). Avaiable on-line at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2014/12/nike_co-founder_phil_knights_n.html.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Boyle. Pat. OSPIRG Blasts Nike for its Off-Shore Accounts. FM News 101 KXL. (6/5/14). Available on-line at http://kxl.com/2014/06/05/ospirg-blasts-nike-for-its-offshore-accounts/.

[11] Brettman, Allan. Consumer Groups Say Nike and More Than 300 Other U.S. Corporations Keep Billions Overseas. Oregonian. (6/5/14). Available on-line at http://www.oregonlive.com/playbooks-profits/index.ssf/2014/06/consumer_groups_say_nike_and_m.html.

[12] Hammill, Luke.Hillsboro Aviation To Expand: Will Build First Structure on Hillsboro Airport's North Side. Oregonian. (10/16/14). Available on-line at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2014/10/hillsboro_aviation_to_expand_w.html.

[13] Hammill, Luke.Hillsboro Aviation Sells Flight-Training School, But Day to Day Operations Not Likely to Change. Oregonian. (12/2/14). Available at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2014/12/hillsboro_aviation_sells_fligh.html.

[14] Bell, John. In Two Airport Deals, Port Proposes $98 Million PDX Expansion, $10 Million Hillsboro Land Acquisition. Portland Business Journal. (12/5/14). Available on-line at http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/real-estate-daily/2014/12/n-two-airport-deals-port-proposes-98m-pdx.html.

Home Owners Upset by O'Hare Airport Noise Win Property Tax Appeals

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
January 12, 2015

According to a 4/1/14 CBS Chicago report, homeowners impacted by O'Hare Airport in Chicago have won property tax appeals due to the loss of property value sustained as a result of aviation noise.

Click on Home Owners Upset by O'Hare Airport Noise Win Property Tax Appeals to access the article.

Hopefully this decision will lay a foundation for people in Washington County to seek remuneration for property value devaluation resulting from the noise and environmental degradation generated by Hillsboro Airport aviation activity. Homeowners in this jurisdiction pay property taxes that support the Port of Portland and Portland Community College (PCC), both of which engage in sponsoring flight training over homes, neighborhoods, schools and recreational areas.

The credibility of PCC as a responsible educational institution is in question, particularly since the excessive noise generated by the Aviation Sciences program contributes unwelcome noise intrusions throughout the day as well as disrupted sleep and night-time awakenings all of which are known to have a negative effect on health and optimal cognitive functioning. In addition, lead and other toxic emissions associated with aviation activity are linked with lowering IQ's, autism, ADHD, increased violence, cardiovascular disease, dementia and a host of other serious and debilitating illnesses. These potential negative and irreversible impacts far outweigh the benefits of running a flight training school at public expense.

PCC's footprint is not limited to Washington County and the Hillsboro Airport. A 6/4/13 Portland Tribune article Troutdale Flight School is International Cockpit for Pilots by Cari Hachman reveals PCC's role in promoting flight training at the Troutdale Airport and further illustrates how PCC is using taxpayer dollars to erode livability and compromise the ability of area homeowners to enjoy their property. Per the article, “Hillsboro Aviation's Troutdale facility was opened on behalf of a request by Portland Community College to help grow their aviation flight program...Each flight school offers two and four year college degree programs through Portland Community College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, respectively.”

Settlement Tackles Lead Pollution from Aviation Fuel

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
December 11, 2014

Congratulations to the Center for Environmental Health. As a result of this legal victory, fuel distribution companies in California will be required to provide non-leaded or lower level lead alternatives to leaded aviation fuel. In addition they will be “required to warn residents living within one kilometer of the airports where they operate of the lead risk, and to post warning signs at the airports.”

Legal Settlement Aims at Reducing Lead Poisoning Risks From California Airports

Avgas Companies at LAX, Oakland International Airport, John Wayne Airport and Others To Clean Up Lead-Tainted Fuel

Oakland, CA, December 10, 2014 – The Center for Environmental Health today announced it has won a legal agreement with 30 companies that sell and/or distribute lead-containing aviation gas (avgas) at 23 California airports, calling on the companies to provide safer alternative fuels. The companies include the leading suppliers of aviation fuels made by Chevron, Shell Oil, and other major fuel companies. The settlement includes fuel companies operating at airports identified by the EPA as having some of the highest lead emissions among all airports nationally, including Van Nuys Airport in LA County (listed by EPA as the airport with the country's highest lead emissions), Los Angeles International (LAX), Oakland International, Orange County's John Wayne Airport, Montgomery Field in San Diego, and others throughout the state.

Lead is an additive in avgas used in piston-engine aircraft, usually small planes classified for general aviation or as air taxis, to boost fuel octane and purportedly to improve performance. In 2008, 550 tons of lead was used in the making of avgas. The EPA has noted that lead emissions from aviation fuel are “expected to distribute widely through the environment,” and has previously found that emissions from small aircraft using leaded gas account for half of the nation's air emissions of lead.

“With this settlement today, we expect the aviation industry to move more quickly to towards safer, lead-free fuels,” said Caroline Cox, CEH Research Director. “No one living near an airport should be exposed to a stunningly toxic chemical like lead when safer fuels are available.” The case, “CEH vs. Aerodynamic Aviation (RG11 600721)”, was heard in Alameda County Superior Court.

Some alternative aviation fuels already exist. For example, a newer form of Avgas, known as 100VLL for “very low lead,” has recently been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, but most suppliers have not yet made it available in California. Also, ethanol-free premium automotive gas (Mogas) is an FAA-approved fuel that is compatible with more than 70 percent of current aircraft. In addition, the FAA is now testing four lead-free aviation fuels, including fuels made by Shell and Total.

Under the agreement with CEH, the fuel distributors will offer for sale the lowest-lead fuel that is commercially available in sufficient quantity. The companies will also make Mogas available to airport-based fuel companies (fixed base operators, or FBOs) that request it, subject to certain terms (eg, coverage under liability insurance) and availability. The companies are also required to warn residents living within one kilometer of the airports where they operate of the lead risk, and to post warning signs at the airports. The companies, including Air Petro Corporation (a leading seller of Chevron fuels), Eastern Aviation Fuels (a leading national marketer of Shell branded fuels), Avfuel Corporation (the nation's leading independent supplier of aviation fuels) and others will pay a combined $550,000 in penalties and legal costs.

Leaded aviation gas has been recognized as a problem for more than a decade. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which joined with the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and other aviation and petroleum trade groups to form the General Aviation Avgas Coalition, told EPA in a 2010 comment that the groups are committed to “an unleaded future.” In 2011, the FAA and EPA created the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee, including industry representatives from the AOPA and NATA, to come up with lead-free solutions. But the groups' 2012 report called for an 11 year process to phase-in lead-free fuels.

“Eleven years is too long to wait for clean air free from lead poisoning risks,” said Cox. “We will continue to monitor the industry and keep the pressure on for safer fuels as quickly as possible.”

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is the leading national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. CEH protects children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

Settling Defendants:

Air88,Inc.d/b/aCrown Air Aviation
Air RutterInternational LLC
AirFlite, Inc.
Airport Property Partners LLCd/b/aAPPJetCenter
Amelia Reid Aviation LLC
American Airports Corporation
Ameriflyers of California
Atlantic Aviation Corporation
Aviation Consultants, Inc.d/b/a San Luis Jet Center
Business Jet Center Oakland,LP
California in Nice,Inc.d/b/a Nice Air
Castle & Cooke Aviation Services,Inc.
Channel Islands Aviation,Inc.
KaiserAir,Inc.
Lanc Air Corp.d/b/aSan Diego Jet Center
Landmark Aviation
Loyd's Aviation
Maguire Aviation Group,LLC
Napa Jet Center, Inc.
Pacific States Aviation Inc.
Rossi Aircraft,Inc.
Sacramento International Jet Center,Inc.
Signature Flight Support Corporation
South Bay Aviation,Inc.
Sun Air Jet,LLC
Van Nuys Skyways d/b/aMillionAirBurbank
Air Petro Corporation and World Fuel Services Corporation
Avfuel Corporation
Eastern Aviation Fuels, Inc.
Downstream Aviation, LP

Airports:
  1. Bob Hope
  2. Brackett Field
  3. Brown Field Muni Airport
  4. Buchanan Field
  5. Camarillo Airport
  6. El Monte Airport
  7. Fresno Yosemite Internatl Airport
  8. Hayward Executive
  9. John Wayne Airport
  10. Long Beach Airport (Daugherty Field)
  11. Los Angeles Internatl Airport
  12. Meadows Field
  13. Montgomery Field
  14. Napa County Airport
  15. Oakland Internatl Airport
  16. Palo Alto Airport
  17. Reid-Hillview Airport
  18. Sacramento Executive Airport
  19. San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport
  20. Santa Barbara Municipal Airport
  21. Santa Monica Municipal Airport
  22. Van Nuys Airport
  23. Zamperini Field

Toxic Pesticides Released During Aerial Spraying

Tiller, Oregon Residents Exposed to Aerial Spray Toxins

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
December 5, 2014

On 12/1/14, Tony Schick of Oregon Public Radio published a report entitled How One Complaint Reveals the Flaws in Oregon's Pesticide Regulations. The article discusses the concerns of impacted residents in Tiller, Oregon, who were exposed to toxic chemicals released during an aerial spraying activity in April of 2014. Shortly thereafter they began experiencing negative health symptoms. In addition, trees and plant life in the area were damaged.

Applebee Aviation Cited for Violating Aerial Pesticide Spray Regulations

According to the article, “On April 16, a helicopter sprayed the Seneca Jones Timber Company property with chemicals later found hundreds of feet off site...Seneca Jones hired Applebee Aviation to conduct the spraying.” Both Applebee and the pilot, Patrick Hall, were cited “each with two counts of violating Oregon law for allowing it to drift off target and over water. Hall and Applebee Aviation did not respond to interview requests. According to state documents, they described the application to investigators as routine.”

This is not the first time Applebee Aviation, located in Buxton, Oregon, has been involved in an accident linked with dangerous pesticides. In April of 2014, a 22 year old man died after a head on collision with a commercial truck driven by contractors from Applebee Aviation. At the time, the truck was transporting helicopter fuel and herbicides intended for aerial spraying on behalf of a Roseburg Forest Products project. Per a report from The World, “Several of the herbicide barrels fell off the truck, and the fuel leaked downhill towards the river...The Region 15 Hazardous Materials Team, based at the Coos Bay Fire Department, was dispatched to handle the chemical containment and cleanup.” For additional details see the report from KOIN News. Applebee Aviation has also been involved in a number of helicopter accidents some of which involved agricultural operations.[1]

In addition, the Washington Department of Agriculture website indicates that Luther Phillips from Applebee Aviation was fined $450 and his license was suspended for seven days for a June 2010 violation, “while making an herbicide application by helicopter to a forestry site in Clallam County, Phillips sprayed the wrong clear-cut and heavily damaged a two-year old western hemlock plantation.”

Pacific Air Research Aerial Spraying Incident Near Gold Beach

The issue of helicopter aerial spraying of herbicides was also in the news in October of 2013 when residents in Cedar Valley near Gold Beach reported negative health consequences including asthma attacks, hand swelling, skin rashes, headaches and stomach aches after aerial spray pesticides were released over their homes. In this case Steve Owen, the owner of Pacific Air Research, was cited and fined. See Southern Oregon Pesticide Case Highlights Gaps In State Oversight and EPA Fines Oregon Herbicide Applicator $1,500 for additional information regarding this incident.

Possible Legislative Solution

Fortunately, Senator Michael Dembrow who serves as Chair of the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee and Rep Ann Lininger of Lake Oswego are in the process of drafting legislation to better protect Oregon residents from the dangers of toxic pesticide exposure and aerial spraying. Their efforts are discussed in an article by Tony Schick at Legislation In Works For Oregon Herbicide Spraying.

Notes

[1] Other helicopter accidents in aircraft registered to Applebee Aviation include the following. See National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) aviation query site for details:

  • On 7/23/14 a pilot died while involved in a helicopter agricultural operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
  • On 11/14/11 a pilot sustained serious injuries while loading Christmas trees in Woodburn, Oregon.
  • On 7/12/11 a helicopter crashed during an agricultural operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
  • On 6/23/10 a helicopter crashed during an aerial application flight in Rickreall, Oregon.
  • On 5/19/06 a helicopter with a flight instructor and student pilot on board sustained serious damage during a training flight at the Skyport Airpark, a private facility in Cornelius, Oregon.

Aviation and Increasing CO2 Emissions

Study on U.S. Airlines and Global Warming Shows That Aviation Emissions Are Continuing to Climb

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
November 24, 2014

The excerpt below is from a press release entitled Study: Airline Fuel Efficiency Grounded as Profits Soar: Huge Efficiency Gap Shows EPA Must Cut Aircraft Carbon Pollution. It was issued by the Center for Biological Diversity on 11/19/14 and can be accessed in full at the Center for Biological Diversity website . The study referred to, which was published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), is available at the ICCT website.

“U.S. airlines posted a 5.7 percent profit margin in the first three quarters of this year. Meanwhile industry pollution is increasing: Aviation now accounts for about 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. transportation sector, and those emissions are rising 3 percent to 5 percent every year. ‘Airlines are banking sizeable profits even as they simply ignore fuel efficiency and emit more carbon pollution,’ said Vera Pardee of the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘This report's disturbing findings leave the EPA no choice but to finally confront airplanes' escalating emissions. Until we get sensible federal regulations, we'll see more and more planet-warming pollution from this industry.’

If counted as a country, global aviation would have ranked seventh in terms of CO2 emissions in 2011, just after Germany. These already massive CO2 emissions rise every year and are projected to triple by 2050. The EPA announced two months ago that it has started a rulemaking process to determine whether American aircrafts' fast-growing carbon emissions endanger public health and welfare. The result of that process is a foregone conclusion: they do. The agency expects to issue a proposed finding by late April 2015, along with a notice describing international efforts to set aircraft carbon emission standards by 2016. Those efforts have stalled for decades.

The EPA action came one month after the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, which is represented by Earthjustice, filed a notice of intent to sue the agency for failing to reduce aircraft greenhouse gas pollution.”

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