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U.S. officials wary of EU ETS

By control on July 29, 2011

The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) could set the U.S. aviation industry back billions of dollars if certain actions aren’t taken, officials at the Air Transport Association of America say. Testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, ATA Vice President of Environmental Affairs Nancy Young shared this concern and more.

“The EU ETS violates international law, including the sovereignty of the United States and imposes an illegal, exorbitant and counterproductive tax on U.S. citizens, diverting U.S. dollars and threatening thousands upon thousands of jobs,” she told members of the House.

ATA projections estimate that the ETS could cost U.S. airlines more than $3.1 billion from 2012 to 2020, a figure that could sustain more than 39,200 aviation jobs. What’s more, this number could double if the price of carbon continues to rise.

To improve the situation, Young called for total government support in opposing the ETS and negotiation with the EU. After all, she stated, “none of the monies collected by the Europeans are required to be used for environmental purposes. By contrast, the initiatives that the U.S. airlines are undertaking are resulting in real environmental improvements.”

American carriers have been so successful, in fact, that they improved their fuel efficiency by 110 percent from 1978 and 2009, a feat comparable to removing 19 million cars from the road each year. U.S. airlines have also invested in billion-dollar projects to reduce C02 emissions and increase sustainability, ATA personnel said.

The U.S. Congress is currently debating H.R. 2594, a bill that would empower the U.S. secretary of transportation to forbid U.S. carriers from participating in the EU ETS. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri are strong proponents of the bill, calling the ETS unlawful and unjust.

“This appropriately named EU scheme is an arbitrary violation of international law that disadvantages U.S. air carriers and kills U.S. aviation jobs,” Mica said in a statement. “The message from Congress and the U.S. government is loud and clear: The United States will not participate in this ill-advised and illegal EU program.”

Petri concurs. To him, imposing such a tariff on international airlines is completely out of the EU’s realm of authority. It’s why Petri calls for the U.S. to partner up with the international aviation community via the International Civil Aviation Organization.

What’s more, he said, “since 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 believe that the United States should not participate in their unilateral and questionable ETS program.”

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