The law—the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011—or S. 1956 [PDF 198 KB] provides that consideration of the public interest includes the effects on:
- U.S. consumers, carriers, and operators
- U.S. economic, energy, and environmental security
- U.S. foreign relations, including international commitments
The law requires the U.S. Transportation Department to hold a public hearing before imposing a prohibition.
The Transportation Department can reassess its determination, and must evaluate it after any EU change to the directive, international agreement on worldwide aircraft emissions, or another U.S. law addressing emissions.
The law encourages U.S. aviation authorities to pursue an international agreement on aircraft emissions, but also requires them to act under existing authority to protect U.S. airlines from the effects of the EU scheme.
The law, introduced as a Senate bill in 2011 and approved without amendment by the House of Representatives, followed the EU’s incorporation of civil aviation in its greenhouse gas cap-and-trade policy—known as ETS, for emissions trading scheme. ETS covers any flight (with some exceptions) that takes off or lands within the EU.
In its report [PDF 171 KB] to the bill, the Senate Commerce Committee cited the objections of U.S. airlines to being covered by the EU regulation, and noted arguments that the European Union has no jurisdiction to regulate emissions in foreign or international airspace based on a 1944 international agreement.
Last year, 26 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member countries, including the United States, declared their opposition to the inclusion of international aviation in the ETS. The Obama administration announced its opposition and urged negotiations through the ICAO in a letter to the EU.