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European Union Emission Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. PETRI. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of the bill before us, H.R. 2594, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011.

Starting in January of 2012, the European Union will begin to unilaterally apply its emissions trading scheme to civil aviation operators landing in or departing from one of the EU member states.

Under the emissions trading scheme, EU member states will require international air carriers and operators to pay for emission allowances and, in some cases, penalties for carbon emissions. The scheme will apply to the entire length of the flight, including those parts of the flight outside the EU airspace. For instance, on a flight leaving Los Angeles for London, taxes will be levied not just on the portion of the flight over the United Kingdom, but also for the portions of the flight over the United States' sovereign soil and the high seas.

On September 30, 21 countries, including the U.S., signed a joint declaration against the EU emissions trading scheme in New Delhi, India. Despite serious legal issues and objections by the international community, the EU is pressing ahead with its plans.

The bill before us will prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from participating in this illegal scheme put forward unilaterally by the EU. The European Union's unilateral application of the scheme onto U.S.-flagged operators without the consent of the United States Government raises significant legal concerns under international law, including violations of the Chicago Convention and the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement.

There are also concerns that the emissions trading scheme is nothing more than a revenue raiser for EU member states, as there is no requirement that EU member states must use the funds for anything related to the reduction of carbon dioxide production by the civil aviation sector.

The emissions trading scheme will extract money from the airline industry that would otherwise be invested in NextGen technologies and the purchase of new aircraft, just two proven methods for improving environmental performance. In addition, the scheme would introduce a new commodities market into the cost structure for airlines. Given the havoc fluctuating oil markets have played on the U.S. airline industry, it doesn't make sense to subject the struggling airline industry to another commodities market that is vulnerable to speculation.

According to the Air Transport Association's testimony before the Aviation Subcommittee this July, the extraction of capital from the aviation system as envisioned under the EU emissions trading scheme could threaten as many as 78,500 U.S. jobs. This is unacceptable.

Finally, there are considerable concerns about the proliferation of EU member states' ``eco-charges'' being put in place on top of the emissions trading scheme. Questions have arisen as to whether the eco-charges are consistent with U.S. member states' obligations under international law and whether some of these charges may, in effect, be double charges for the same emissions the EU intends to regulate under the emissions trading scheme.

Given all of these concerns, we believe that the European Union needs to slow down and carefully weigh their plans to include international civil aviation in their emissions trading scheme. We believe a better approach is to work within the international civil aviation community through the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization to establish consensus-driven initiatives to reduce emissions.

However, because the EU has shown no interest in working with the international community to address their concerns and objections and to seek a global approach to civil aviation emissions, we're moving this bipartisan legislation forward to ensure U.S. operators will not participate in their unilateral and questionable scheme.

The Obama administration, Republicans and Democrats here in the House have recognized the troubled approach taken by the Europeans and have expressed ardent opposition. This legislation is one of many avenues the United States can take, concurrent with others, to resolve this conflict. To be sure, the United States Government will use all tools at its disposal to hold our aviation interests harmless from the Europeans' unfair and illegal scheme.

I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PETRI. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the two previous speakers from Massachusetts and California that we're not in any way talking about EU passing laws governing the behavior of our planes or anyone else in EU territory. We are talking about EU attempting to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction over flights over the United States or international waters in violation of the agreement reached by each of the EU countries separately with ICAO, as well as of course every other country--190 in the world--that belong to that international order that allows for the peaceful movement of aviation throughout our globe. To deny that would be very disruptive and set a precedent that cannot be accepted. That's why not only our administration, but the administrations of over 21 other countries joined recently in New Delhi, India to condemn this. Other countries are in the process of adopting legislation similar to that which we are adopting here today.

We're not talking about emission trading schemes or anything else. We're talking about the principle of territoriality and countries attempting to exercise that beyond the legitimate and recognized bounds that have been accepted by international law.

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