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Mr. THUNE. I know it is very confusing, and I thank my colleague from North Dakota for yielding to his colleague from the South.
I hoped to come down and to ask unanimous consent to pass S. 1956 with a committee-reported amendment. My understanding is there is an objection on the other side. I am disappointed about that. I had hoped we would be able to get unanimous consent today to pass what is a very bipartisan bill. It is the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act.
It is a bill that passed by voice vote earlier this week from the Commerce Committee, and a similar measure was passed earlier this year in the House of Representatives by a voice vote. The aviation industry, the administration, consumers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, just about everyone believes that the EU must be reined in and it must happen quickly.
In fact, just this week at the Commerce Committee markup Senator Boxer, who is the chairwoman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee, and also a member of the Commerce Committee, said, referring to my bill:
I think moving it fast is critical because I think it will send a message to the international organization we are trying to nudge forward and know this is the way this is going to be dealt with.
I could not agree more. In 2005, the European Union began their emissions
trading scheme which attempts to cap emissions of carbon dioxide from stationary sources within the European Union. Starting in 2012, in January of this year, aviation operators departing from or landing in Europe began to be included in this emissions scheme. Under this program, any airline, including non-European airlines, flying into and out of Europe will be required to pay for EU emissions allowances. Allowances will be collected for the entirety of the flight including portions in U.S. and international airspace.
This is a great example of this unfair application that is happening right now. We have Olympic athletes flying to and from the London games by air. One such Olympian is from my home State of South Dakota, Paige McPherson, and she is competing in Taekwondo next week. She arrived in London last week and the final leg took her from Newark Airport to Heathrow Airport. During this flight, approximately 555 miles of the 3,500 miles flown, or 16 percent, was actually in EU airspace, but her flight was taxed as if 100 percent of it was in EU airspace. Obviously, this unilateral imposition of the EU ETS on U.S. aviation operators is arbitrary, unfair, and a clear violation of international law. Plus it is being done without any guarantee for environmental improvements and at a huge cost to the aviation industry and constituents we serve.
Let me be clear that no one in Congress is against the EU implementing this European trading scheme within their boundaries. That is obviously their prerogative; that is their jurisdiction. However, I believe any system that includes international and other non-EU airspace must be addressed through the International Civil Aviation Organization, known as ICAO, of which the United States and 190 countries, including all of the EU member states, are members. That is why I introduced this simple bipartisan bill. It gives the Secretary of Transportation the authority to take the necessary steps to ensure America's aviation operators are not penalized by any system unilaterally imposed by the European Union.
The bill also requires the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the FAA, and other senior U.S. officials to use their authority to conduct international negotiations and take other actions necessary to ensure that U.S. operators are held harmless from the actions of the European Union.
It is time for the Senate to join the House of Representatives and the administration in voicing our strong opposition to application of the European Union's emission trading scheme system to American operators. I am sorry that it couldn't be done today because, as I said, this was unanimously reported out of the Commerce Committee earlier this week. We have broad bipartisan support. Democrats and Republicans agree this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Frankly, it is one that I think could be addressed in a very timely way. The longer we wait, the longer we have American air carriers and therefore American travelers paying into a system where is no guarantee it is going to be used for any kind of environmental improvements in Europe. It is, in effect, a tax on American travelers that would fund European governments. If we want to put it in a crass way, we could say that the American public is being taxed to bail out European nations. That is as simply as I can put this. It is a violation of international law; it is a violation of American sovereignty. It is unfair, unjust, and an illegal tax. It needs to be stopped. This legislation would allow that to happen.
It is unfortunate that we have an objection on the other side to prevent that from happening tonight. I intend to work with my colleagues to get a vote on this when we return in September.
I want to thank my colleague from North Dakota for his graciousness in allowing me to make that statement.
I yield the floor.
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