The House of Representatives Wednesday approved an amendment to the 2013 transportation appropriations bill which would bar the Transportation Department from using appropriated funds in support of the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI), Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL), Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WD), and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerry Costello (D-IL).
Starting in January 2012, the European Union (EU) began to unilaterally apply its Emissions Trading Scheme ("ETS") to civil aviation operators landing in or departing from any of the EU Member States. The EU members are assessing taxes which will be due next year.
Under the ETS, 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, for a flight leaving Los Angeles for London, taxes would be levied not just for 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.
"The EU has no jurisdiction over airspace outside its boundaries and no legal basis to impose this scheme on our air carriers. The unilateral application of ETS to our carriers in this way without our consent is a violation of international law -- including the Chicago Convention and the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement," Petri said.
Petri added that 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 they must use the funds for anything related to the reduction of carbon dioxide production by the civil aviation sector.
According to the Air Transport Association's testimony before the Aviation Subcommittee last July, the extraction of capital from the aviation system as envisioned under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme could threaten as many as 78,500 American jobs. "This is simply unacceptable," Petri said.
Petri added that a better approach would be to work with the international civil aviation community to establish consensus-driven initiatives to reduce emissions.
The Obama Administration and members of both parties have expressed ardent opposition to the ETS. Many other countries have also denounced the scheme, including China, India and Russia. The Chinese Air Transport Association has warned that China will take swift counter-measures that could include impounding European aircraft if the EU punishes Chinese airlines for not complying with the ETS.