Larsen Opening Statement at Aviation Subcommittee Hearing on “Preparing for Take-Off: Examining Efforts to Address Climate Change at U.S. Airports”
Washington, D.C., May 17, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, delivered the below statement during a hearing on the various infrastructure, technologies, federal programs and other initiatives U.S. airports and airport stakeholders are utilizing to mitigate and prepare for the effects of climate change. More information about Tuesday’s hearing, including witnesses and testimony, can be found here. For a recording of Chair Larsen’s opening remarks, click here.
Remarks as prepared for delivery.
“Good afternoon and welcome to today’s Aviation Subcommittee hearing titled “Preparing for Take-Off: Examining Efforts to Address Climate Change at U.S. Airports.”
“As Chair of this Subcommittee, I am focused on continuing the movement to a cleaner and greener air transportation system.
“Aviation and aerospace are responsible for as much as 9 percent of carbon emissions in U.S. transportation and close to three percent of total emissions globally.
“Aviation emissions directly impact communities adjacent to the nation’s airports, causing poor air quality, increased health risks and reduced property values.
“A 2019 study by the University of Washington found that communities underneath and downwind of aircraft landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exposed to a specific ultrafine particle pollution that is distinctly associated with aircraft.
“The study also found that affected communities are as far as 10 miles away from the airport itself.
“In response to global aviation emissions projections, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its first Aviation Climate Action Plan in November 2021.
“The FAA’s plan calls for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. aviation sector by 2050 by implementing specific sustainability and environmental measures.
“Some of these measures already exist. For example, FAA’s NextGen procedures such as Performance-Based Navigation are already helping to reduce aircraft fuel burn and create more efficient flight routes.
“Development of the Climate Action Plan’s proposed tools will need the support of Congress.
“These tools include:
“Regarding SAF, I am working with Rep. Nikema Williams on a discussion draft of legislation that would build off language in Build Back Better and provide federal funding for SAF producers to build or scale up facilities and infrastructure for the production, storage and distribution of SAF.
“This discussion draft has input from the FAA and an array of other aviation stakeholders, and I welcome input from my Subcommittee colleagues to help advance SAF as an emissions reduction tool.
“As Congress prepares for the next FAA reauthorization bill, this Subcommittee must evaluate existing programs and policies aimed at reducing emissions from U.S. airports, while also looking forward to develop new tools to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector.
Airport Programs and Strategies
“As airport emissions have come into sharper focus, airports themselves have taken steps to reduce those emissions.
“The Airports Council International (ACI) has adopted decarbonization and resiliency measures such as airport energy efficiency standards, the use of low and zero emission transportation and ground support vehicles, climate risk assessments, and flood mitigation projects, among others.
“The federal government also supports various initiatives to help foster emission reduction technologies and strategies.
“The FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program allows airports to use federal dollars to finance low emission vehicles and related infrastructure, electric gate and gate equipment and other airport quality improvements.
“FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program helps accelerate the development of new aircraft and engine technologies, as well as alternative jet fuels for use in civil aviation.
“U.S. airports are also able to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds for energy reduction measures, sustainability planning and the purchase of zero emission vehicles and related infrastructure.
Emerging Technologies and Strategies
“Emerging aviation technologies, such as alternative fuels and aircraft propulsion systems, can also help to reduce emissions at U.S. airports.
“While several airports and airlines are working to expand the use of SAF, there are significant barriers to its widespread adoption.
“High production costs have led to lower availability and higher prices, rendering SAF difficult to access for many carriers and airports.
“Another potential solution is the development of full or hybrid electric aircraft, which operate using electric batteries for power.
“Several airlines and advanced air mobility (AAM) companies are developing electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or eVTOLs, for potential use for short-range flights.
“The full Committee recently approved my bipartisan Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization (AAIM) Act to help airports and local communities plan for these new aircraft.
“Finally, hydrogen is another option that may be a long-term solution to help decarbonize the aviation sector.
“Hydrogen-powered aircraft emit water instead of carbon dioxide, leading to substantially reduced air pollutants.
“Yet, there are still problems to solve with this technology, particularly around storage and transport of hydrogen to fuel aircraft.
“Today’s witnesses can speak to ongoing efforts aimed at reducing aviation emissions, as well as needs for future reduction tools.
“I would like to welcome our various airport representatives from the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Port of Portland, who will discuss their strategies for mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“I also look forward to hearing from SkyNRG Americas on where SAF stands in the current market and what steps Congress should take to facilitate its adoption.
“U.S. airlines must be proactive in developing strategies to reduce the carbon emissions from the industry.
“I am pleased to have Alaska Airlines join us to discuss its efforts to reduce emissions and how other airlines could achieve similar results.
“The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is here today to discuss the advances in aviation manufacturing that can lead to reduced emissions.
“Finally, emerging fuel sources, like hydrogen, present long-term options to help decarbonize the aviation industry in the future.
“I am pleased to welcome ZeroAvia, which is building a major research and development facility at Paine Field in my district, to testify on their efforts to bring hydrogen powered aircraft into the mainstream.
“I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses on where current efforts stand and potential next steps to address these issues.
“While Congress, the Administration, and industry are working to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change at U.S. airports, there is more work to be done.
“Thank you, and I look forward to today’s discussion.”