In a marked change in longtime Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) policy regarding analysis of noise and air quality impacts from FAA initiated, directed or funded projects, FAA has substituted a single new model for the long mandated Integrated Noise Model (“INM”) and Emissions and Dispersion Modeling System (“EDMS”). Beginning May 29, 2015, FAA policy “requires” the use of the Aviation Environmental Design Tool version 2b (“AEDT 2b”), which integrates analysis of aircraft noise, air pollutant emissions, and fuel burn. These impacts, according to FAA are “interdependent and occur simultaneously throughout all phases of flight.” 80 Fed.Reg. 27853.
On November 7, 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) published its “Final Policy Amendment” (“Amendment”) to its “Policy and Procedures Concerning the Use of Airport Revenue,” first published 15 years ago in the Federal Register at 64 Fed.Reg. 7696, February 16, 1999 (“Revenue Use Policy”). The Amendment formally adopts FAA’s interpretation of the Federal requirements for use of revenue derived from taxes including sales taxes on aviation fuel imposed by both airport sponsors and governmental agencies, local and State, that are non-airport operators.
On March 27, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) proposed a Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants (“Carbon Standard”), setting national limits on the amount of carbon pollution power plants built in the future can emit. The rules are a reaction to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), in which, among other things, the Supreme Court held that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (“CO2”) are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. EPA was charged by the court with issuing an “endangerment finding,” i.e., a determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare which was issued on December 15, 2009.
Immediately upon their initial promulgation, the Carbon Standard generated more contention than power plants generate greenhouse gases. The Wall Street Journal charged, in an article entitled “Killing Coal,” that “because the putative ‘regulatory impact’ would be zero, there are also no benefits.” It went on to say that, because the rule would apply not only to new plants but also to every plant upgrade or modification in existing facilities; and because the technology required to meet the standard is still speculative, the EPA’s real goal must be to put a stop to the use of coal in electricity generating.
The EPA immediately fired back, characterizing the critique of the Carbon Standard in, among others, the Wall Street Journal, as examples of “fact free assault.” Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy pointed to the “example” that, in fact, “this standard only applies to new sources – that is power plants that will be constructed in the future. This standard would never apply to existing power plants.” Moreover, again pointing to the Wall Street Journal editorial, she stated “the proposed rule explicitly does not apply to facilities making such modifications. In fact, EPA did not propose a standard for any modifications.”
The proposed Carbon Standard speaks for itself.
In both the Record of Decision (ROD) and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign, the FAA states that there will be a decrease in emissions from aircraft as a result of the airspace redesign because the aircraft will burn less fuel. To support this theory, the FAA relies upon a cobbled-together "Fuel Burn Analysis" that is nowhere to be found in any of the FAA’s orders or procedures.
However, even with the ginned-up fuel burn analysis, it is now becoming apparent that there may be no savings in fuel to be derived from instituting the Airspace Redesign’s preferred alternative. Using the information provided in the Appendix R of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the TAAM output files that were included in the Administrative Record as document 9285, Clean Air Act consultant Dan Meszler, of Meszler Engineering Services, concluded that the "Preferred Alternative" would seemingly increase fuel consumption.
On the following page is an excerpt from Mr. Meszler’s Report, along with a table showing the differences between fuel consumption reported in the FEIS and fuel consumption based on the TAAM data that was included in the Administrative Record.