U.S. Will Lose Billions Due to European Union Policy

The "illegal" European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) could cost the U.S. airline industry more than $3 billion through 2020, if the extraterritorial cap-and-trade requirements are implemented as planned next year, said the Air Transport Association (ATA), the industry trade group for the leading U.S. airlines. The ATA wants governmental action on the policy.

"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,” said ATA Vice President, Environmental Affairs Nancy Young in testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. “Working with industry, continued U.S. Government opposition is crucial to bringing the EU back to the global negotiating table.”

According to ATA estimates, the U.S. airlines will be required to pay more than $3.1 billion into EU coffers between 2012 and year-end 2020. That outlay could support more than 39,200 U.S. airline jobs. The costs could double if the cost of carbon allowances escalates as it has in recent years.

“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,” Young said.

U.S. airlines have dramatically improved fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by investing billions of dollars in fuel-saving aircraft and engines, as well as innovative technologies like winglets and advanced avionics, the ATA said.

Accordingly, the U.S. airline industry improved its fuel efficiency by 110 percent between 1978 and 2009, resulting in carbon dioxide savings equivalent to taking 19 million cars off the road each of those years. The industry represents just 2 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions while driving more than 5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, ATA said.

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