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Obama Signs Law Which Prohibits Unfair EU Taxation Of U.S. Aviation
By Mike Mitchell

November 28, 2012 – President Obama on Tuesday signed into law a measure to stop the United States’ participation in a costly European Union (EU) scheme to impose an emissions tax on American and other nations’ aircraft operators and air carriers. 

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri were among the primary sponsors of the bipartisan companion bill in the House of Representatives. 

In 2011, Mica first led a Congressional delegation to the European Union to convey opposition to the EU’s plan. Mica also led a subsequent delegation to Montreal to meet with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) leaders, representatives of the EU, and other officials regarding U.S. opposition to the ETS. 


The original “European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011,” authored by Mica, Petri, and other House leaders, overwhelmingly passed the House on October 24, 2011. "It never made a bit of sense for European governments to tax our citizens for flying over our own airspace and with the passage of this law we've got the tools we need to prevent it from happening and protect American jobs," said Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, a co-author of the bill. 

Mica said that the law signed by the President is a clear signal that the United States will not accept the EU’s go-it-alone attempt to impose emissions taxes on other nations for activities far outside the EU’s own borders. “This European emissions trading scheme is an unlawful infringement upon U.S. sovereignty, and the sovereignty of numerous other nations.” 

“Furthermore, this global emissions tax, on flights that may occur almost entirely outside of the EU’s airspace, lacks true transparency or requirements that taxes collected be spent on emissions reduction,” Mica continued. “In reality, this plan smacks of an attempt to help replenish depleted EU coffers. Although European leaders have temporarily pulled back their tax proposal, the law signed by the President will help ensure the EU scheme will not resurface next year. “In order to address the continued reduction of aviation emissions worldwide, the EU, the United States, and other nations should work appropriately within the scope of the International Civil Aviation Organization rather than taking a unilateral and unfair approach,” Mica added. 



Petri said, “The EU is free to impose taxes within their own borders but cannot and must not be allowed to impose taxes on activities carried out in other sovereign countries. Whoever came up with the crazy idea of taxing airlines for the non-European portion of flights to or from Europe needs to be reminded that the age of European imperialism is a thing of the past. “I’m pleased that the President has signed our bill, and that’s proof positive that we can actually agree on some things around here,” Petri continued. “The U.S. is in discussions about emissions with ICAO, which is the correct forum for an international agreement on the matter.” 

The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Prohibition Act of 2011 (S.1956) directs the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the ETS. The law directs the FAA, the DOT, and other appropriate officials to enter into international negotiations, including agreements to pursue a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions, and to take appropriate measures under existing authorities to ensure U.S. air carriers are held harmless from any ETS unilaterally imposed by the EU.

The measure also prohibits the use of FAA, DOT, Aviation Trust Fund or any other appropriated funds from being used to pay any tax or penalty imposed on a U.S. operator pursuant to the ETS. A Whitehouse spokesman said "The Obama administration is firmly committed to reducing harmful carbon pollution from civil aviation both domestically and internationally, but, as we have said on many occasions, the application of the EU [Emissions Trading System] to non-EU air carriers is the wrong way to achieve that objective".

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