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Beyer Introduces Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act, legislation that would bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.

“The Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act would address climate change and noise pollution from aircraft, two of the most persistent problems I hear about from Northern Virginians,” said Rep. Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to inflict damage on American communities, Congress must look at every available option to reduce emissions, and that should include the aviation industry. In addition to being better for the planet, this legislation will also lead to quieter skies above and peace of mind to communities near airports. I appreciate the support for this bill on both sides of Capitol Hill, and will be making the case for it in the House as our Committee takes up NASA’s authorizing legislation.”

Companion legislation was previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), with cosponsors including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Aviation currently accounts for approximately 3 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and emissions from this sector are expected to triple by 2050 given the projected growth of passenger air travel and freight. In addition, as air traffic volumes increase, communities are increasingly impacted by noise pollution from airplanes.

This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes by 2030 (regional transport planes) and 2040 (single-aisle planes), and it authorizes NASA to accelerate its work developing and demonstrating the technologies to make this goal a reality.

Specifically, this bill:

  • Establishes an ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas and 50 percent less noise compared to 2019 levels by 2030 for regional planes and 2040 for larger, single-aisle planes.
  • Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
  • Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 and to bring new airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
  • Requires NASA to provide guidance on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.

Besides the benefits of less pollution and lower noise impacts on our communities, the initiative established in this legislation will help drive industry growth and innovation, maintain our competitiveness with other countries that are moving aggressively on electrified propulsion technologies, and ensure that United States airlines can fly with U.S.-generated technology to other countries that adopt stricter standards for noise and emissions.

By setting an ambitious goal and challenging NASA to work in collaboration with industry partners, this bill will help drive innovation, economic competitiveness, and a transformational shift to a cleaner, quieter, more sustainable aviation industry.

Text of the bill is available here. Original cosponsors include Paul Tonko (D-NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Beyer serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, is co-chair of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition’s Climate Change Task Force, and is a Member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, which works to reduce noise pollution from aircraft.