Environmental Protection Agency has been asked to regulate CO2 and
other greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft. The
airlines don't think it's necessary. We do.
As we reported
recently in our news pages, seven states and cities and three
environmental groups have filed petitions seeking the EPA action.
This cannot have been a surprise to anybody in the airline
business, because some of these same states and environmental
groups won a Supreme Court decision earlier this year that
classified CO2 and other greenhouse gases as pollutants under the
Clean Air Act.
In that case
(Massachusetts v. EPA if you care to look it up), the issue
concerned the EPA's role in regulating CO2 emissions from cars and
It takes no leap of
reasoning to apply the same logic to aircraft. (Note to cruise
lines: Heads up.)
The airlines claim
that further EPA regulation is unnecessary because they're already
doing all they can to operate efficiently thanks to the high cost
This is true, but
only up to a point.
Admittedly, many of
the things that the EPA could require to reduce emissions are
already being done to conserve fuel, such as taxiing on one engine,
using ground-based power sources at airport parking stands, flying
more efficient routings, reducing aircraft weight and so
In short, the
airlines, driven by necessity, have already done a great deal to
reduce their fuel consumption.
But fuel conservation
isn't the same thing as reducing emissions. Other procedures and
technologies may contribute to a reduction in CO2 and other
emissions without necessarily reducing airline fuel
As long as fuel
prices remain high, we can count on the marketplace to do its job
and discipline airline fuel consumption.
pollution, however, is the job of the EPA, and the Supreme Court
has ruled that this mandate includes CO2 emissions. The airlines'
otherwise enviable record in fuel conservation and efficiency
should not be allowed to obscure that fact.
cruise ship leaves San Diego for a 15-day Hawaii cruise, making
landfall at Hilo on the Big Island after four days at sea. From
there it visits Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the Kona Coast of the Big
Island, putting in a total of 57 hours of port time in the 50th
state before heading home.
On the way back, on
the 14th day of the cruise, the ship, which operates under a
foreign flag, stops at Ensenada, Mexico, for four hours (8 p.m. to
midnight) before returning to San Diego.
Does this cruise
comply with U.S. law? The U.S. is prepared to say it does not.
That's an answer we might be able to live with if the U.S. wasn't
also saying that the Ensenada stop has to span 48 hours.
It has always seemed
to us that determining whether a particular cruise itinerary
complies with the spirit and letter of the 120-year-old Passenger
Vessel Services Act involves more art than science, but the
government's proposed 48-hour rule lacks both.
Four hours may be a
token stop, but 48 hours is arbitrary and punitive. The
government's proposal offers no justification for this number, and
cruise lines would be right to fight it for that reason alone.