Aviation excluded from House climate bill

 - July 28, 2009, 11:19 AM

Although the House removed from H.R.2454, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” (ACES), a provision that would have set carbon emissions standards for new aircraft and new aircraft engines, business aviation advocates are worried about the law’s impact on their operations.

Legislators approved H.R.2454 by a margin of 219 to 212 in late June, but the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. ACES mandates a cap on carbon-dioxide emissions that would require CO2 emissions economy-wide to be 17-percent below the 2005 CO2-emission level in the U.S. by 2020, 42-percent below the 2005 level by 2030 and 82-percent below the 2005 level by 2050.

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) expressed concern that climate change legislation has not had enough time to be vetted to ensure that certain provisions “won’t negatively affect our fragile economy.” NATA applauded the removal of language mandating new emission standards for aircraft, and it vowed to work with the Senate to monitor similar provisions.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association noted that general aviation’s 224,000 U.S.-registered airplanes, which make up 60 percent of the world’s GA fleet, account for approximately 0.6 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the U.S. transportation sector and less than 0.2 percent of total global GHG.

Under a cap-and-trade program, businesses would buy and sell permits allowing the right to emit certain amounts of greenhouse gases. ACES is intended to limit emissions of gases that contribute to global warming and create a market for trading pollution allowances. The price of these permits would be determined by demand and availability in the marketplace.

According to the Helicopter Association International, “aviation experts in Washington” have said the calculated cost to the industry could be $20 per ton of CO2, if aviation is a covered entity.

And, while aviation is not a covered industry under the House clean air legislation, it would be affected when refiners pass along the costs to end users.

NBAA noted that ACES does not explain the cost of the legislation to the aviation industry and does not reinvest funds raised in aviation infrastructure. The aviation industry wants any funds from ACES channeled back into the aviation sector.