Letter of Support: Thune Bill Keeping E.U. Carbon Tax Off the Backs of U.S. Airlines

February 10, 2012 J

Dear Senator Thune,

On behalf of more than 1.9 million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I write in strong support of S. 1956, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act. The bill prevents the European Union (EU) from imposing a carbon tax on flights in U.S. airspace.

In 2005, the EU launched its Emissions Trading System, a “cap-and-trade” program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The scheme is pretty simple: total emissions of greenhouse gases would be capped, and a specified number of “emissions allowances” would be made available for sale. Factories and power plants that emit greenhouse gases are forced by law to buy allowances in order to operate, though they are free to trade for allowances with other emitters. For years, AFP has explained that this is nothing more than an attempt to use carbon taxes as a guise to grow government. This EU carbon tax was expanded to include airlines on January 1, 2012.

The policy is not only bad on its face, but it is especially controversial because of how it is applied and who it applies to. Instead of limiting the tax to just European airlines, it applies to other countries’ airlines as well, including the United States. Instead of limiting the tax to just flights flying over European airspace, U.S. aircraft operators will be required to pay the carbon tax on flights flying over the U.S., flights flying over other non-EU countries, and even flights flying over non-designated international airspace – so long as the flight’s origin or destination is an EU country at some point. This not only defies common sense, it is also inconsistent with long-established international agreements in this area.

If the European Union wants to impose a carbon tax on its own airlines, they are welcome to do so, but they have no authority to impose such a tax on U.S. airlines (and ultimately on U.S. airline passengers when the tax gets passed along in ticket prices). China already announced that it will prohibit its airlines from paying the carbon tax. U.S. officials should do the same. This legislation already passed the House with overwhelming, bipartisan support in October. It’s time for the Senate to act as well.

Americans for Prosperity is proud to support S. 1956, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act. I urge your colleagues to support its passage, and I look forward to working with you in the future.


James Valvo
Director of Government Affairs
Americans for Prosperity

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