Senators aim to pass anti-ETS aviation bill this week
Author: Valerie Volcovici
Authors of a bill that would shield U.S. airlines from participating in the EU's emissions trading scheme will try to finalize a compromise with dissenting senators to get the legislation passed before Senate goes into recess on Friday.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator John Thune and Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, cleared a vote in the 19-member Senate commerce committee on July 31.
The bill's passage in the committee sent a strong message to European officials that both the administration and Congress object to the EU's imposition of its carbon emissions trading (ETS) scheme on U.S. airlines.
Passage of the bill in the full Senate would up the pressure on the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as it prepares to host its next council meeting in late-October to devise a global alternative to the application of the EU ETS.
Thune had called the EU ETS a "misguided and unlawful tax" for U.S. carriers and attempted last week to call for a unanimous consent vote to fast track the bill's passage.
He called off the vote to try to reach a compromise with dissenting lawmakers, making some changes to the bill's language, including on how it would address whether the U.S. government would have to pay back airlines if they have already surrendered emissions permits to the EU before the legislation would be enacted.
Sources close to the matter said it is unclear whether the senator or senators who opposed the bill would vote for the amended bill but Thune is likely to bring the bill to the floor for a unanimous consent vote before the week's end.
Congress will not resume until after the November presidential elections.
If the bill fails to get a unanimous consent vote this week, the senators could try to negotiate further after November or attach the measure to a broader "must-pass" package, the source said.
If the bill passes, House lawmakers, who passed a similar bill last year, can request a conference to harmonize the two bills or pass the Senate version.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici)