Disappointing, short-sighted Senate bill could jeopardize international action on aviation pollution

July 31, 2012
Jennifer Andreassen, 202-572-3387, jandreassen@edf.org
(WASHINGTON – July 31, 2012)  A bill (S.1956) that would give the U.S. secretary of transportation authority to ban U.S. airlines from participating in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System was passed today out of the Senate Commerce Committee.

 Note: The bill gives the secretary of transportation the authority to prohibit airlines from participating in the EU Emissions Trading system if he determines, after taking into account many different considerations, that it is in the public interest to do so. The bill, European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011, does not prohibit U.S. airlines from participating in the EU system.

Annie Petsonk, International Counsel at Environmental Defense Fund, said:

“Passage of this disappointing and short-sighted bill today seems only to decrease the odds of action at the international level by calling into question the status of the one lever that actually moved ICAO to have serious discussions after 15 years of inaction – the EU Emissions Trading System. 

“This bill now ups the pressure on the Obama administration to produce a solution at ICAO. We are happy to see the text at least encouraged international negotiations at ICAO, which we believe hold the key to a global agreement to reduce aviation emissions.

“Legislation that blocks American companies from obeying the laws of the countries in which they do business is almost unprecedented in U.S. history, showing up most recently when Congress barred American firms from suborning apartheid in South Africa. How disconcerting that airlines, which are spending significant funds touting their environmental friendliness, are acting as though an anti-pollution law is as grievous as a massive human rights violation.”

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