Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee, today commended the Senate Commerce Committee for passing his bipartisan bill (S.1956) by voice vote to prevent the European Union (E.U.) from adding a tax on flights traveling through U.S. airspace. Similar legislation (H.R.2594) introduced in the House of Representatives by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) passed by voice vote in October of 2011.
Starting January 1, 2012, all international flights operating to and from the E.U., including flights into and out of U.S. airspace, have been included in the E.U. Emissions Trading System (ETS). Airlines are now subject to pay an emissions tax to the E.U. The legislation introduced by Thune, the European Union Emission Trading Scheme Prohibition Act, would provide the Secretary of Transportation with the authority to ensure that U.S. aircraft operators are not penalized or harmed by the E.U.’s unilateral emissions scheme. The bill, once officially reported, will be placed on the legislative calendar which will allow for Senate consideration.
“Congress must act to protect America’s sovereignty and ensure that U.S. operators and passengers are not penalized by this illegitimate tax,” said Thune. “More than $3.1 billion will be wrapped up in new taxes between 2012 and 2020 that could otherwise be invested in creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in our country. I call on the Senate to immediately pass my legislation and hope the president will join us in calling for the E.U. to stand down on this misguided and unlawful tax.”Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood have sent letters to the E.U. that express their continued opposition to the application of the E.U. ETS to foreign air carriers. Thune’s bill is supported by numerous airline stakeholders, including Airlines for America, Air Line Pilots Association, American Society of Travel Agents, Cargo Airline Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, International Air Transport Association, Interactive Travel Services Association, National Air Carrier Association, Regional Airline Association, and the U.S. Travel Association. Other supporters include Americans for Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and United Airlines.