The movement to cap emissions of “greenhouse gases” is well under way in Europe, but the debate now is shifting to Washington, where two powerful lawmakers are aiming to fast-track legislation that could have a costly price tag for aviation, according to a report in Aviation Week and Space Technology.
Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, have drafted a bill that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and require polluters exceeding those limits to buy tradable permits at auctions, where prices would be determined by market demand, the report says.
“While their initial 648-page draft is deliberately vague on how emission allowances would be set and distributed, the…industry is bracing to be hit with yet another government levy, albeit one aimed at saving the Earth’s environment,” the report commented.
The proposal is expected to be introduced formally in the near future and marked up by Waxman’s committee in May. Specific details on how the system would work will be hashed out during markup, a source close to Waxman told the aerospace publication.
Similar legislation fizzled in the Senate last year after a veto threat from then-President George W. Bush, but President Barack H. Obama is a strong supporter of cap-and-trade as a way to limit emissions of greenhouse gasses. Senate hurdles do remain, however. Lawmakers already have blocked one measure that would have eased passage of cap-and-trade legislation.
“We are moving toward the idea of putting a price on carbon dioxide,” said Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank. “There is building political consensus that we have to do something about it.”
The Waxman-Markey proposal does not mention aviation specifically, but would make oil companies responsible for the emissions created by the transportation fuels they produce; costs which almost certainly would be passed along to buyers of aviation fuels.
In addition, there is no provision within the Waxman-Markey bill to avoid conflict with the cap-and-trade systems of other nations.
The costs to industry of the proposal are not yet defined, and a government sponsor to put the plan before the U.N. climate change conference is still being sought.
To read the full report: www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/aw041309p3.xml