A coalition of states and environmental groups is urging the federal government to curb global warming emissions from planes and other aircraft.
California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia filed a petition Wednesday asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from domestic and foreign aircraft departing or landing at American airports.
"We want the EPA to take their head out of the sand and actively promulgate rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," California Attorney General Jerry Brown told The Associated Press. "The EPA has taken a very passive and unimaginative approach to combating global warming."
Aviation is responsible for about 3 percent of the country's overall carbon dioxide emissions, and the Federal Aviation Administration expects domestic aircraft emissions to rise by 60 percent by 2025, according to the petition.
The petition asks the EPA to develop rules to reduce aircraft emissions by requiring operators to boost fuel efficiency, use cleaner fuels or build lighter, more aerodynamic airplanes.
Earthjustice, an Oakland-based environmental law firm, plans to file a similar petition on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity. The city of New York and California's South Coast Air Quality Management District joined the states' petition.
EPA officials said the agency will review the petitions after they're filed but defended its efforts to combat global warming.
"The U.S. has invested over $37 billion on climate change science, technology and tax incentive programs — more than any other country in the world," the EPA said in statement.
The Air Transport Association, which represents the country's major airlines, said establishing a greenhouse gas emissions standard for aircraft engines was not necessary "when the commercial airlines already are driven to be as fuel efficient and environmentally conscious as possible."
U.S. airlines have doubled their fuel efficiency over the past three decades and are committed to boosting fuel efficiency by another 30 percent by 2025, according to the ATA.
California and several conservation groups filed a similar petition in October asking the EPA to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases from cargo ships, cruise liners and other oceangoing vessels.