By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON Nov 13 The U.S. House of
Representatives voted on Tuesday to bar airlines from complying
with a European Union law that would force them to pay for their
carbon emissions one day after the EU offered to stop the clock
on enforcing the measure.
The bill, which was the first piece of legislation to be
debated on the House floor after a pre-election recess, directs
the transportation secretary to decide to shield U.S. airlines
from Europe's carbon emissions trading system if he deems it
The EU said on Monday it would "stop the clock" on enforcing
its law to create a positive atmosphere for international talks
on an alternative global plan to tackle airline emissions.
"We are notifying the EU that we are not going to support
the scheme, and in fact we want a ... long-term solution, but we
will not allow the United States to be held hostage," said
Representative John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation
and Infrastructure committee.
The bill already cleared the Senate in a unanimous vote in
September and will be sent to President Barack Obama for
The White House has not yet taken a position on the bill.
Mica said that despite the EU concession to put its law on
hold for one year while the U.N.'s civil aviation body crafts a
global framework to address the sector's emissions, the United
States had to prevent it from imposing its law again a year from
The governing council of the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) concluded a meeting last Friday, which
approved a new process and timeline for the body to decide on a
global framework to help the aviation sector slash their
greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU, which praised the outcome of that meeting, has said
it would scrap the application of its carbon market to non-EU
airlines if ICAO can deliver an acceptable framework.
Mica said on the House floor that the point of the
legislation was to "hold people's feet to the fire in respecting
"ICAO does not set policy of the United States of America.
We are a sovereign nation. We must defend our sovereignty in
concurrence with international trade agreements," he said.
The Florida congressman said the fact that both the House
and Senate passed bills with bipartisan support likely piled
enough pressure on the EU for it to back down from applying its
TRADE WAR WARNING
Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, ranking member of
the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the bill
"counterproductive" on the House floor.
"Rather than doing something constructive to address global
warming, we are going to start a trade war with the Europeans,"
Waxman authored a bill that would have created an
economy-wide carbon cap-and-trade program that passed the House
in 2009, but failed to win support in the Senate.
Waxman warned that the bill would interfere with efforts
under ICAO to broker an international agreement by next autumn.
Isaac Valero-Ladron, a spokesman for the European
Commission, said the United States needs to prove it is serious
about contributing to a global solution to address rising
emissions from the aviation sector.
"Opponents of the inclusion of our legislation have always
said that a global solution under ICAO is the way to go. The EU
has done its part. Now it's up to the U.S. to show that they are
serious about pushing for a global solution," he said.