U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee, this morning praised the Senate’s passage of his bill, the European Union Emission Trading Scheme Prohibition Act (S.1956), to prevent the European Union (E.U.) from adding a unilateral tax on flights traveling through U.S. and international airspace. The Senate Commerce Committee passed Thune’s bipartisan legislation by voice vote on July 31, 2012, and the full Senate early this morning passed the legislation by Unanimous Consent, sending the bill to the House of Representatives for consideration. Similar legislation (H.R.2594) introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) passed by voice vote in October of 2011.
Currently, all international flights operating to and from the E.U., including flights into and out of U.S. airspace, are included in the E.U. Emissions Trading System (ETS). Under ETS, U.S. air carriers are now subject to pay an emissions tax to the E.U. Senator Thune’s legislation 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.
“Congress has sent a strong message to the E.U. that they cannot unilaterally impose an illegitimate tax on the United States,” said Thune. “I am pleased the Senate was able to reach a bipartisan agreement on this bill without compromising the intent of this legislation, which is protecting American sovereignty. 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. I hope the House will quickly take action on my bipartisan legislation so the president can sign this bill to prevent the E.U.’s unlawful attack on American sovereignty.”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.