A U.S. Senate panel today heard feedback on Senator Claire McCaskill's bipartisan plan to protect Missouri consumers and American jobs from a European Union environmental tax on the U.S. airline industry.
McCaskill used today's hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee to tell the country's top transportation official that she would not allow the European Union (E.U.) to force Missourians to pay carbon taxes on international flights. Today's hearing focused on a E.U. proposal that applies a "cap-and-trade' carbon tax system to all flights originating or landing in Europe-taxing even those emissions that occur over international waters and outside Europe.
"Every dime of this tax they're trying to put on our domestic airline industry could go to anything they want to spend money on in their government," McCaskill said. "So not only is it taxing us for flying over airspace that has nothing to do with the E.U., but it doesn't even have to be used for the stated purpose of why they're collecting the money in the first place."
Since January, airline carriers landing in or departing from the E.U., including flights between the U.S. and the E.U., have been subject to the E.U. Emissions Trading System (E.U. ETS), an emissions trading program that levies a tax on U.S. airline carriers related to European countries interest in reaching their own internal goals for carbon emissions. The E.U.'s emissions tax has no equivalent in U.S. law. Remarkably, these taxes are not set aside for a specific purpose, such as reducing emissions from the aviation industry, and could be used as part of the general fund of any European Union government for virtually any purpose.
McCaskill, along with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), is leading the effort to pass a bipartisan bill to protect U.S. airlines from being forced to participate in any emissions trading program established by the E.U. and was the first Senate Democrat to sign onto the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act. The Thune-McCaskill legislation has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and unions representing airline employees.
During today's hearing, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Republican Congressman from Illinois, praised McCaskill and Thune for their bipartisan efforts at addressing the E.U.'s "lousy policy" and thanked them for their leadership.
McCaskill has been a vocal opponent of the failed "Cap & Trade" energy policies proposed in Congress, saying that Missouri consumers already struggling financially would pay a steep price for energy policies that punish states that rely heavily on coal. Partly citing her record on energy, the respected, nonpartisan news magazine National Journal ranked McCaskill exactly in the moderate middle of the U.S. Senate, #50 out of 100.