WASHINGTON Nov 27 President Barack Obama signed
a bill on Tuesday shielding U.S. airlines from paying for each
ton of carbon their planes flying into and out of Europe emit,
despite a recent move by Europe to suspend its proposed measure
for one year.
The carbon fee bill was the first piece of legislation
debated on the House floor after Congress returned from recess
on Nov. 13, and had been cleared by the Senate in September in a
rare unanimous vote.
It directs the U.S. transportation secretary to shield U.S.
airlines from Europe's carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) if
he or she deems it necessary.
Lawyers have said the bill is an unusual piece legislation
because it would prevent U.S. companies from complying with the
laws of another country.
"It never made a bit of sense for European governments to
tax our citizens for flying over our own airspace - and with the
passage of this law we've got the tools we need to prevent it
from happening and protect American jobs," said Democratic
Senator Claire McCaskill, a co-author of the bill.
The House passed the bill despite the announcement on Monday
that the European Union would "stop the clock" on enforcing its
law for one year.
McCaskill and co-sponsor Republican Senator John Thune said
in a statement that their bill had pressured the EU into
delaying the enforcement of their cap-and-trade scheme for
The EU had also been under pressure from China, one of the
world's fastest growing markets for aircraft, which had
threatened to cancel orders of European Airbus aircraft if the
EU did not back down from applying its ETS on all airlines.
One EU official took to the social networking site Twitter
to suggest that United States was not making good on suggestions
for "greener" policies.
Obama made reference to climate change as one of a trio of
issues facing the country in his victory speech after being
re-elected on Nov. 6.
"So far the reelected President Obama climate policies look
EXACTLY as in first term. Wonder when we'll see the announced
change?" Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Change Commissioner, said
in a tweet.