Bipartisan Legislation To Protect Travelers, Airline Industry Jobs Clears Commerce Committee, Heads To Full Senate
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee has unanimously approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (pictured, left) and John Thune (R-SD) (pictured, right) which would protect American consumers and jobs from a European Union tax on the U.S. airline industry. The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
"To subject Americans to a tax levied by the European Union while they fly in U.S. airspace is a dramatic overreach and assault on our sovereignty, especially when European countries can use that money for anything they'd like," McCaskill said in a news release. "The bottom line is that European governments have no business imposing a tax on our air travel, and I'm glad that our colleagues today moved our plan closer to the finish line."
Since January, airline carriers landing in or departing from E.U. countries, including flights between the U.S. and E.U. countries, have been subject to the E.U. Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS), an emissions trading program that levies a tax on U.S. airline carriers related to European countries' interest in reaching their own internal goals for carbon emissions.
The E.U. program applies a "cap-and-trade" carbon tax system to all flights originating or landing in Europe-taxing even those emissions that occur over the United States, international waters and elsewhere outside Europe. Remarkably, these taxes are not set aside for a specific purpose, and could be used as part of the general fund of any European Union government for virtually any purpose.
McCaskill and Thune are leading the effort to protect U.S. airlines from being forced to participate in any emissions trading program established by the E.U. and was the first Senate Democrat to sign onto the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act. The McCaskill-Thune legislation has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as unions representing airline employees.
GAMA quickly expressed its support for the McCaskill-Thune bill as it moves through the legislature. "Congress has shown leadership by going on the record that ETS is the wrong way to address greenhouse gas emissions from aviation," GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce (pictured) said in a news release. "Passage of S. 1956 provides the Administration the political support and tools necessary to push the EU to end its unilateral and misguided approach while simultaneously urging the EU to negotiate at ICAO, the proper forum for developing international aviation policy. We thank Senator Thune, Senator McCaskill, and the members of the committee for their leadership in working to resolve this stalemate."
GAMA has worked closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop a framework to reduce aviation emissions. In 2009 GAMA, jointly with the international business aviation operator community, developed a set of carbon reduction commitments. In addition, earlier this month ICAO reached consensus on a metric for CO2 emissions which is a milestone in the process of developing a CO2 emission standard for new aircraft.