In 2005, the European Union (E.U.) put in place an Emissions Trading System which, beginning in 2012, will include new taxes on all international flights, including flights between the United States and the European Union. Recently, I introduced the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011 to prevent the E.U. from adding a tax on flights traveling through U.S. and international airspace.
While most of us assumed that the issue of sending taxes across the pond was settled long ago, this new effort violates the sovereignty of the U.S. by applying a tax to U.S. air carrier operations in the U.S. National Airspace System. Additionally, the tax would be applied to all segments of the flight, not just those over E.U. Member States. This “green” tax would be paid directly to more than 20 countries that make up the E.U. with no assurance that the funds would be used to mitigate aviation emissions. In fact, some member states have called the decision into question due to confusion over implementation and likely retaliation from other countries.
This move is more than just an assault on our sovereignty; it could cost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. A leading airline association estimates that this tax could cost U.S. airlines more than $3.1 billion between 2012 and 2020, which could otherwise be used for the creation of nearly 40,000 jobs. Without question, these taxes are sure to be passed on to the flying public in higher airfares for both domestic and international flights.
There is no question that the E.U. has created a financial crisis and many see this new tax as a way for them to raise additional revenues. I am glad that a growing number of organizations, including Airlines for American and the U.S. Travel Association, have endorsed my common sense legislation. The U.S. Department of Transportation has also raised objections to these unilateral taxes and I look forward to ensuring that U.S. air carriers are not negatively impacted.
Similar legislation has already passed the House of Representatives and I will work with my colleagues to stop this tax from taking effect.