There are more than 8,000 airplanes in Illinois, and at this point their carbon emissions are unregulated by the federal government.
But the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Vera Pardee, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, says it's about time.
"They are a very large feature of American transportation, and they're not regulated," she states. "Trucks are, buses, every car, every passenger car is currently regulated, but the airline industry has been able to just sneak under the radar screen."
Pardee adds that while the EPA's proposed action is welcome, it may be too little, too late in terms of the impact airplane carbon pollution has had on the environment.
According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, if commercial aviation were a country, it would rank seventh after Germany in terms of carbon emissions.
The EPA says while emissions should fall under the Clean Air Act, the agency plans to wait until the International Civil Aviation Organization sets a standard, which is likely only to apply to new aircraft that make up 5 percent of the world's total aircraft.
Pardee point out some airlines in the U.S. already operate airplanes with some reduced carbon emissions.
"It is not that hard to get much more efficient," she maintains. "Even if we just got all the airlines up to the standard that's being implemented right now by the best airlines in the United States, we would cut carbon by more then 25 percent. "
The EPA has invited the public and transportation industry to comment on the issue. The agency began regulating car pollution in the 1970s and recently announced it would regulate carbon emissions from power plants.