New bill seeks to thwart pioneering anti-pollution law for airlines

July 20, 2011


Jennifer Andreassen, 202-572-3387,

(Washington — July 20, 2011) A bill unveiled today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. John Mica (R-FL) and others would worsen air pollution and force U.S. airlines to violate a European anti-pollution law, by making it illegal for airlines to comply with that law, said Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a leading U.S.-based environmental nonprofit.

The European Union law is the only program in the world that sets enforceable limits on carbon pollution from aviation. As of January 2012, all flights using European airports will be held accountable for their emissions, incentivizing airlines’ transition to lower-carbon travel.

“It’s simply baffling that these legislators are working so hard to keep U.S. airlines in the dark ages of relying on inefficient airplanes and outdated technologies,” said EDF’s International Counsel Annie Petsonk. “This is an aggressive attempt by a few House members both to worsen pollution by scuttling a pioneering environmental law and to force U.S. airlines to become scofflaws.”

Contrary to the airlines’ public stance, the EU law will actually benefit U.S. airlines, according to the airlines’ trade association’s own economic analysis. The report, “Financial Impacts of Extending the EU ETS To Airlines”, shows that complying with the law could actually increase airlines’ profitability.

“This bill would inflame ongoing negotiations between the United States and Europe and usurp the President’s constitutional authority to handle matters of international law,” said Petsonk.

Three U.S. airlines — United/Continental and American — and their trade association, Air Transport Association of America (ATA), have also challenged the legality of the EU law in Europe’s highest court. EDF, in partnership with US and European environmental organizations, has intervened in support of the EU law. Oral argument was held July 5, 2011, and a decision may be handed down within the next few months.