Europe’s new airline rules anger Congress

The airline industry and some Republican allies say enough with the talk: It is time to take action against the European Union’s new emissions trading scheme.
The EU instituted a rule requiring all airlines that want to serve any member nations to comply with a carbon emissions trading plan, which U.S. airlines say will cost billions of dollars. While the Obama administration doesn’t like the mandate, critics say not enough has been done.

“The administration has talked, and sometimes it’s difficult to get things done unless you draw a line in the sand,” Florida Rep. John Mica, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said at a roundtable discussion last week. “But I think the time has come for some additional action.”
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) noted that there are only a few months left before airlines have to start paying based on how many tons of carbon dioxide their aircraft emit.
“The starting point is you start to complain, but I think we’ve been complaining now for over a year,” Shuster said, advocating for the administration to file a formal complaint against the EU.
“Let’s start the process,” he continued, “then I think they’ll start to twitch, maybe even fall off of their chairs.”
The airline industries of several large industrialized nations — including the United States, China and Russia — say the mandate is unfair because airlines will have to pay based on the amount of emissions throughout an entire flight, both while inside an EU country and while over international waters.
The EU started keeping tabs at the beginning of this year, but the airlines won’t have to pay until the beginning of next year — and they’re banking on heading off the mandate before that happens.
Nancy Young, vice president for environment affairs at Airlines for America, the U.S. airline industry’s trade group, called the EU’s scheme “a unilateral tax grab” worth $3.1 billion between now and 2020. Young said there’s also no guarantee that the EU will use the revenue for environmental purposes.
The administration agrees that the EU has overstepped, though so far, its actions have revolved mostly around putting pressure on the EU to withdraw its mandate and instead work things out with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N.-chartered standard-setting body.

The EU has shown few public signs of backing down, and Young’s group wants the administration to initiate a formal complaint before ICAO under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The convention, which created ICAO and was ratified in 1947, allows signatories to initiate a formal dispute resolution process, upon which ICAO must rule.
“We believe an Article 84 case is the logical next step; we believe the U.S. is the right party to bring it,” Young said.
So far, the administration has said it’s keeping its options open, though it also hasn’t ruled out eventually filing an Article 84 proceeding.
“We are looking at the whole range of options that are available to us, what the next step should be, how we should move forward,” said Krishna Urs, deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs at the State Department. “We haven’t taken anything off the table. We remain firmly committed to opposing the EU [emissions scheme] and to pushing for a solution in ICAO.”
Julie Oettinger, assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment for the Federal Aviation Administration, echoed those sentiments. She added that the administration supports the EU’s ultimate goal of reducing the impact airlines have on the environment, just not the means by which the EU wants to achieve it.
Beyond the fact that the administration remains resistant to pushing an Article 84 case, there’s another wrinkle: The EU technically isn’t a signatory to the aviation treaty that forms the heart of most international aviation standards, nor is it a member of ICAO even though its member nations are.
“That poses a particular problem, because the EU established the legislation [and] directed its member states to implement it individually, and yet [with] a private party bringing an action, the defense is that the EU itself has not signed the relevant treaties,” Young said. “It underscores why the U.S. needs to bring an Article 84 case — it gets directly to the 27 EU member states’ obligations under the treaty that there’s no question they signed.”
The administration remains resistant to opening an official dispute resolution complaint, at least for now. Even if that may eventually be the road the dispute goes down, the United States doesn’t want to be the country to lead the charge.
Young said that’s just what needs to happen and pointed to recent precedent.
In 2000, the United States filed a complaint against the EU for mandating a ban on aircraft with “hush kits” — equipment intended to tamp down engine noise. After months of negotiating at ICAO, during which it became clear that the EU would likely lose, the EU rescinded the mandate, and the United States withdrew its complaint.

source: politico