House Lawmakers Seek to Bar Airlines From EU Carbon Program
Members of the House of Representatives are seeking to keep U.S. airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and AMR Corp. (AMR), from being part of the European Union’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers today introduced a bill to bar U.S. carriers from participating in the EU’s efforts next year. The program, aimed at emissions such as carbon dioxide that are linked to climate change, would cost U.S. carriers $1.3 billion in its first year and may top $3.5 billion, Representative John Mica, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, told reporters in Washington.
The EU plan is a “cash grab,” said Mica, a Florida Republican.
Starting next year, international airlines will have to account for emissions on flights to and from EU airports, and offset that amount with carbon permits from the bloc’s exchange. The EU will give airlines free allowances in 2012 for 82 percent of their historic emissions, with 15 percent auctioned and the remaining 3 percent held in a special reserve.
“The European Union plans to unilaterally thrust an emissions trading scheme upon U.S. airlines in violation of international agreements and laws,” said Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the committee.
The EU trading program is “a shell game,” Rahall said, because “no one can say with certainty that the money will be used for its intended purpose.”
The carbon rule is “compatible with the international law,” Isaac Valero-Ladron, spokesman for EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, said in an e-mail today.
The EU will not back down unless the U.S. adopts similar measures with comparable environmental effects for its air carriers, Valero-Ladron said.
The House bill would direct the U.S. Transportation secretary to prohibit carriers from participating in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. U.S. officials also would be instructed to negotiate or take action to make sure the carriers aren’t penalized by the EU plan.
Aviation accounts for about 3 percent of the EU’s total greenhouse-gas emissions and most of the atmospheric releases come from international flights, according to the union’s website.
“It’s sad that the only thing both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives seem to be able to agree on is to try to stop EU action to tackle growing aircraft pollution,” Hedegaard said in an e-mail. “In Europe we are looking forward to the day where both parties, instead of criticizing what we do, can agree on positive initiatives that benefit the global climate.”
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