Keith Laing The Hill
Sen. Thune 'Pleased' with EU Emission Fees Halt, but Fears Plan May be Revived
November 12, 2012
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  • By Keith Laing

    The Republican sponsor of a Senate bill banning U.S. airlines from being required to trade carbon emissions said Monday he was glad the European Union (EU) requirement has been delayed, but expressed concerns it could be revived later.

    The European Union announced Monday it had decided to place the emission rules for airlines on hold for a year to allow the United Nations’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) time to reach a global agreement on aviation emissions, according to Reuters.

    Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Monday that he was grateful for the delay in implementation for the EU airline emission rules, but he said he would be happier if they were abandoned completely.

    “While I am pleased the E.U. has temporarily suspended its efforts to unilaterally impose a tax on our airlines flying over U.S. and international airspace, the E.U.’s announcement does not rule out future efforts to tax foreign carriers,” Thune said in a statement released by his office. “Further, the E.U.’s announcement still does not recognize that its system is illegal and that a global solution, not just one deemed acceptable by the E.U., must be the path forward.”

    Airlines have campaigned vehemently against the emission rules, arguing that they would have been unfairly applied to the entire lengths of flights to and from European countries, not just time spent in European airspace.

    Under the rules, airlines would have been required to reduce their emissions from 2006 levels by 3 percent before 2013 and 5 percent by 2020.

    The enforcement mechanisms and fines for noncompliance are similar to cap-and-trade proposals environmentalists once tried to push in the United States.

    Thune sponsored a bill with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to block the EU from applying the emission trading requirement to U.S. airlines.

    To win support from those opposed to blocking the requirement, like Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Thune and McCaskill added a provision to their bill instructing the ICAO to address airline emissions separately.

    The Senate’s version of the bill was never married with the version of the legislation that was approved by the House last year. The lower chamber’s version of the measure did not include appeals for a replaced emission system.