Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) today called on the U.S. Senate to approve legislation ensuring the United States will not participate in the European Union's costly emissions trading scheme (ETS) that imposes new emissions taxes on U.S. and other nations' air carriers flying into and out of the EU.
On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved legislation similar to a bill Mica introduced in the House last year. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Mica bill, the "European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011" (H.R. 2594), on October 24, 2011.
"I commend the Senate Commerce Committee for approving a bill prohibiting U.S. participation in this appropriately named and unlawful EU "scheme' to tax American air carriers in American airspace, threaten U.S. aviation jobs, and drive up airline ticket prices," Mica said. "The Senate should expedite approval of this bill as soon as possible, and the House and Senate can move forward to complete a final bill to send to the President. We must be clear that Congress and the United States government will not support this ill-advised and illegal EU tax, which is nothing more than an attack on our nation's sovereignty."
The Mica House bill was written after he led a Congressional delegation to the European Union to convey opposition to the EU's pending plan.
Mica also led a subsequent Congressional delegation to Montreal to meet with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) leaders, representatives of the EU, and other officials regarding U.S. opposition to the ETS. ICAO is the primary organization that sets international aviation standards.
The EU's tax scheme, imposed on January 1, 2012, applies to U.S. and other nations' flights into or out of an EU airport, regardless of how long that flight is in EU airspace. Under the plan, airlines are required to pay an emissions tax to the EU Member State to which they most frequently fly, without any requirements that EU countries even use these fees in aviation emissions reduction efforts.
The funds will be collected -- ultimately from U.S. passengers -- by various EU countries and are not required to be used for the supposed purpose of emissions reduction.
The Mica bill and the Senate counterpart prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the ETS. The bill also instructs U.S. officials to negotiate or take any action necessary to ensure U.S. aviation operators are not penalized by any unilaterally imposed EU scheme. U.S. airlines have estimated that this European tax could cost more than $3.1 billion between 2012 and 2020 which will ultimately increase the cost to passengers.
The Administration has also opposed the EU's plan, but diplomatic efforts to block it have not led to the withdrawal of the tax.