Environmentalists are gunning for the Environmental Protection Agency in a new lawsuit that says the agency is "foot dragging" on issuing new regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, potentially jeopardizing President Obama's leadership position in the global fight against climate change.

"Airplanes' skyrocketing climate pollution requires urgent action, not more foot dragging from the Obama administration," said Vera Pardee, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, in a statement after filing the challenge in federal appeals court. "The EPA has dawdled for almost a decade, even as airplane emissions are on track to spiral out of control."

"We can't afford more denial and delay in tackling this high-flying threat to our climate," Pardee said.

The legal group Earthjustice filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the center and the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

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