The House of Representatives on Monday voted on a bill that banned Europe’s attempt to put emission trading requirements on United States airlines.
The European Union’s Emissions Trading System would charge U.S. aircraft for carbon emissions whenever they landed or took off in Europe beginning next year. By unanimous consent, though, the House approved a bill that rejected the ETS. Both Republicans and Democrats said the European countries’ rules were a way to impose their laws on another country, more specifically the United States, without getting any input from the U.S.
“Not only does this violate international treaties, the Chicago convention, we’ve never had anything like this posed or proposed before,” John Mica (R-Fla.), the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, said on the House floor.
Mica and other lawmakers said the ETS would put restrictions on U.S. aircraft but did not use the money collected to help reduce emissions, as one might think the fines would go toward. Lawmakers also said the ETS could result in a $2 per ticket extra charge, which would cause harm to the U.S. airline industry.
Criticisms of the ETS also stem from the notion that the rules would not only cost U.S. airlines – and consumers – money, but also jobs.
“According to the Air Transportation Association’s testimony before the Aviation Subcommittee this July, the extraction of capital from the aviation system as envisioned under the EU emissions trading scheme could threaten as many as 78,500 U.S. jobs,” Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) said. “This is unacceptable.”
Petri also said the Obama administration, Republicans and Democrats were opposed to the ETS because Europe refused to negotiate how to charge for carbon emissions from aircraft in the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.
“Because the EU has shown no interest in working with the international community to address their concerns and objections, and to seek a global approach to civil aviation emissions, we’re moving this bipartisan legislation forward to ensure U.S. operators will not participate in their unilateral and questionable scheme,” Petri said.
Still, despite the majority of lawmakers being opposed to the ETS rules, some environmentalists in Congress tried to convince their colleagues to support the rules and vote against the House bill to ban them.
“If we legislate our companies out of Europe’s environmental laws, our homeland security could be adversely impacted if European countries decided to withhold their cooperation in response with regard to screening of baggage for bombs on planes flying into the United States,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said. “The Europeans are taking climate change seriously. We shouldn’t undermine their efforts by legislating that our airlines break the law.”
The House-passed bill will now go to the Senate. The upper chamber is not expected to vote on it until next week at the earliest, though, when they return from their week-long break.
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