U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, commended the members of the European Parliament on their decision to extend the moratorium on aviation emission taxes from being collected on flights into and out of the European Union (EU) through 2016.
“This action by the European Parliament reaffirms the strong international opposition to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS),” said Thune. “Through the enactment of my legislation in 2012 and the work of the U.S. delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.S. sent a strong message to the EU that it could not unilaterally impose an illegitimate tax on U.S. air carriers or passengers. Extending the moratorium on the collection of such fees from U.S. air carriers and passengers was the correct course of action.”
Last Congress, Thune and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) led the effort to provide the U.S. Secretary of Transportation with the authority to ensure that U.S. air carriers are not penalized or harmed by the EU’s controversial and unilateral emissions scheme. The bipartisan legislation, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act, was signed into law in November of 2012 and requires that the U.S. government must “hold operators of civil aircraft of the United States harmless from the emissions trading scheme.” The legislation also directed the Secretary of Transportation and other government officials to use “their authority to conduct international negotiations to pursue a worldwide approach to address aircraft emissions” that would be based on consensus rather than the Europeans’ ill-conceived unilateral approach.
In response to the legislation that was signed into law in 2012 and strong opposition from other foreign governments, the EU postponed collecting taxes on international flights into and out of Europe for one year to allow for negotiations at ICAO’s 38th General Assembly that was held in Montreal, September 24th through October 4th, 2013. Although an agreement was reached at the ICAO Assembly to continue international efforts on an acceptable solution, the EU has been considering ways to impose certain portions of their controversial ETS tax scheme on foreign air carriers.
In November of 2013, Thune and McCaskill sent a letter urging the U.S. delegation to the ICAO to protect U.S. passengers and airlines from the harmful effects of the EU ETS as EU leaders consider how to apply the ETS going forward.