Obama Admin Refuses to Endorse Plan to Keep Airfares From Skyrocketing

Earlier this week there was a Senate hearing on the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, which is basically a cap-and-trade sort of tax scheme on the airlines. Department of Transportation Director Ray LaHood testified at the hearing that the administration is opposed to the ETS, which would be really bad for the airline industry. US News and World Report outlined just how bad it would be.

Despite an early push from the Obama administration on behalf of a “cap-and-trade” carbon energy control scheme, Americans have so far been spared from the heavy burdens that this de facto national energy tax would impose on our economy. But asa Congressional hearing held today demonstrates in stark detail, a cap-and-trade regime from abroad now threatens to boost prices and deflate job prospects here at home.

As part of its continuing war on consumers who depend on traditional energy to travel, nations in the European Union enacted an Emissions Trading System (which stemmed from a 1997 pact) requiring various industries to scale back output of carbon dioxide or eventually face stiff fines for failing to meet government dictates. But what do the European Union’s affairs have to do with the price of airline tickets in Anytown, USA? Plenty. Recently the European Union’s court affirmed that the multinational government based in Brussels can impose these carbon taxes on any passenger flight landing in an EU country—even if the flight originated in the United States and largely followed a path over the Atlantic Ocean.

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Yet, the European Union’s rules pose a much more immediate problem for American air carriers. According to Sen. John Thune, a Republican of South Dakota who has authored legislation blocking the European Union from shaking down our airlines for emissions trading revenues, as much as $3.1 billion in higher costs (passed along to consumers) and as many as 40,000 industry jobs are at stake in the United States between now and the year 2020. Several other countries’ airlines from outside the European Union are in the same, well, boat. (Read More)

Even if you’re not an international traveler, it’s doubtful these higher costs won’t be passed along to you. The last thing we need is even higher prices for travel.

So, LaHood said the administration is against the ETS, which is good. But that doesn’t mean they are prepared to do anything about it.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is willing to denounce the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) as a “lousy, bad policy,” but will not support a Congressional mandate to block U.S. air carriers from participating in the system or, for now, back the aviation industry’s call to file a formal complaint at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“At this point, we’re not prepared to support this legislation, this bill,” LaHood told Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee, which held a June 6 hearing on the issue.

Hutchison was seeking administration support for a bill that passed in the House of Representatives last fall with a companion measure introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). The bills would prohibit U.S. air carriers from participating in the ETS.

Explaining his position, LaHood said a letter sent about six months ago with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking the EU to reconsider its system and meetings with European transportation ministers about these objections have had their effect. “Some have complained that I’ve been too frank with them . . . They know we think this is a very lousy, bad policy. They know that. I told them,” he said. (Read More)

There’s not even any guarantee that the taxes the EU collects on these flights will be used for the environment. It’s nothing but a transfer of capital from us to them. And the Obama administration doesn’t want to do anything to stop it, other than a little bit of lip service to make it look like they are standing up for American interests.

Update: Linked by Daily Pundit – thanks!