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Senate Passes Bill To Protect US Airlines From EU Carbon Scheme
By Eddy Metcalf

September 24, 2012 - On Saturday the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2012 (S.1956). The intent of the bill is to shield U.S. air carriers from paying for carbon emissions on European flights.  

The bill provides the Secretary of Transportation with the authority to protect U.S. aircraft operators from the effects of the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme.  

Senator John Thune said it will send a "strong message" to the EU that it cannot impose taxes on the United States. "The Senate's action today will help ensure that U.S. air carriers and passengers will not be paying down European debt through this illegal tax and can instead be investing in creating jobs and stimulating our own economy."

Senator Claire McCaskill said "It's refreshing to see strong, bipartisan support for the commonsense notion that Americans shouldn't be forced to pay a European tax when flying in U.S. airspace." 


The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is a market-based approach used to control pollution for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants, it is the world's biggest scheme for trading greenhouse gas emissions allowances. EU ETS was launched in 2005 to combat climate change and is a major pillar of EU climate policy. It covers power plants, factories, etc. In January 2012 the EU ETS was extended to the airline industry. 

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) stated in a news release that “Protecting U.S. airlines and their employees from this harmful tax has been an extremely high priority for ALPA because of the scheme’s potential to cost U.S. airlines $3.1 billion over the next eight years and threaten airline pilots’ jobs,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president. “ALPA thanks Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for their steadfast leadership in advancing this bill. 

Under the aviation tax scheme, flights into or out of an EU airport, regardless of how long that flight is in EU airspace, would be subject to the program’s emissions cap and trade requirements. U.S. airlines would be required to pay an emissions tax to the EU Member State to which they most frequently fly, without any requirements that EU countries even use these fees in emissions reduction efforts. The United States Government and Congress continue to object to the forced participation in the EU’s plan. 



House Chairman, John L. Mica of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has said “If imposed on January 1st, this tax could close down direct travel from most central and western U.S. airports to Europe, and remaining airline ticket costs would skyrocket. This ill-conceived EU aviation tax scheme is a violation of international law.”  According to testimony presented to the Transportation Committee on July 27, 2011, the Air Transport Association suggested that this scheme would cost U.S. airlines more than $3.1 billion between 2012 and 2020, which could be used for more than 39,200 U.S. airline jobs.

Moreover, these costs could double if the cost of carbon allowances in Europe returns to where it was within the past two years, in which case more than 78,500 U.S. airline jobs could have been supported. Tom Petri on the House Aviation Subcommittee said “We are asking all nations to oppose this tax by the European Union in favor of a positive outcome which can be achieved by working with ICAO and the international community.”

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