The Chairman of the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, Rep. Ed Markey (Democrat from Massachusetts), prompted in part by a Climate Science Watch report [PDF] and Web site post, has sent a letter [PDF] to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration expressing concern that the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transport System (NextGen) fails to include climate change considerations in planning for future air travel challenges.
Markey’s issuance of the letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was reported in E&E News PM (Markey seeks FAA review of aviation emissions [subscription required] on August 14, 2007 by Darren Samuelsohn, who also reported that FAA spokesman Hank Price declined to comment on the letter. Markey is pressing the Bush-Cheney Administration “to account for the global warming-causing emissions from the growing aviation industry,” according to the E&E News PM article, and “questioning whether it has considered the effects of climate change as it develops a long-term plan to deal with the expected tripling in US air travel over the next 20 years.”
Markey’s letter complains that the FAA’s NextGen program, which was instituted by the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) created by Congress in 2003, “has yet to incorporate a serious examination of how global warming could significantly alter current assumptions about the growth path of the aviation industry” and notes that the European Union has proposed including aviation in its greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme. TheE&E News PM article points out that: “The advocacy group Climate Science Watch made similar complaints in a July report.” Markey poses four key questions in the letter that Blakey is encouraged to answer by September 4.
The role of aircraft emissions in exacerbating global warming has received wide press attention this week as hundreds of activists have camped out at Heathrow Airport outside London to call attention to the link between air travel and climate change.