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Airlines Feel Pressure As Pollution Fight Takes Off

December 12, 2006 By: Dan Butcher Travel Agent

The rapid proliferation of flights worldwide is spurring
governments, environmentalists and aviation officials to confront the airline
industry's increasing contribution to pollution—whether from jet emissions or
the mountains of trash generated by travelers. The long-term consequences for
airlines could include obstacles to airport expansion, caps on emissions and
extra taxes on passenger and cargo flights. The European Union is working on a
plan to charge airlines for carbon-dioxide emissions starting about 2011. In
the U.S.,
a national organization of local environmental offices sued the Environmental
Protection Agency in October over what it claims are lax aviation-pollution
standards. The U.S.
airline industry—airports and air carriers—discards enough aluminum cans each
year—4,250 tons in 2004—to build 58 Boeing 747 jumbo jets, according to the
NRDC, an environmental nonprofit organization. The industry also discarded
9,000 tons of plastic and enough newspapers and magazines to fill a football
field to a depth of 230 feet. For decades, debates over airline pollution were
taken up chiefly by people who lived near airports and focused on aircraft
noise, local air quality and property values. As climate concerns rise, along
with recognition of landfill and other pollution issues, few industries are
being let off the hook.

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