Senate climate bill seeks airplane emissions cuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Commercial airlines would have to fly new planes that emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions under a U.S. Senate climate change bill that is set to be introduced on Wednesday.

The legislation would require the government to write standards “applicable to emissions of greenhouse gases from new aircraft and new engines used in aircraft by December 31, 2012,” according to a draft copy of the bill obtained by Reuters.

The Environmental Protection Agency would consult with the Federal Aviation Administration in setting the aircraft emissions standards, according to the bill.

To make sure aircraft and engine makers could meet the emissions goals, the government would be required to consider the technology that will be available at the time the standards take effect and it must consider the “cost, energy, and safety factors associated with the application of such technology.”

Manufacturers like General Electric Co have been producing more fuel efficient and cleaner burning engines for the newest aircraft.

But the FAA and airlines have complained about European demands that U.S. airlines meet tougher emissions standards.

Leading proposals in Congress would exceed those requirements but airlines have previously said the changes would substantially increase their costs.

A spokesman for the U.S. airline industry’s lead trade group, the Air Transport Association, deferred comment until carriers had a chance to more closely study the Senate proposal.

Reporting by Tom Doggett; additional reporting by John Crawley; editing by Mohammad Zargham