Bizav associations criticize Senate climate-change bill

 - November 2, 2009, 5:37 AM

A climate bill introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) differs from a similar bill narrowly passed by the House of Representatives in June in that it would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator to set greenhouse gas emission standards for new aircraft and new aircraft engines.

S.1733, the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” seeks to curb the effects of climate change by capping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationwide, including GHG from new aircraft and new engines used in aircraft, by Dec. 31, 2012.

The bill directs the EPA administrator, in consultation with the FAA Administrator, to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of greenhouse gases from other classes and categories of aircraft as the EPA administrator determines appropriate and in the time frame the EPA administrator designates.

S.1733 also establishes provisions for averaging, banking and trading GHG emissions credits for motor vehicles and engines, non-road vehicles and engines (including marine vessels), and aircraft and engines determined by the EPA regarding the generation, banking, trading, duration and use of credits.

Both NBAA and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) have expressed concern about the Senate bill’s inclusion of aircraft and aircraft engines. The House bill, the “American Climate and Energy Security Act” (H.R.2454), does not include aviation.

NBAA said that S.1733 does not explain the potential cost of the legislation to the industry, does not reinvest funds raised from the industry into aviation and does not reflect industry principles outlined in a document assembled by 20 aviation associations and offered earlier this year.

“The business aviation community has a record of continuous improvement on environmental stewardship,” NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen noted, pointing to long-promoted proposals to contain emissions while preserving mobility. He added that “aviation’s already small environmental footprint could effectively be further reduced by expediting aviation system modernization.”

NATA said that as with H.R.2454, it is concerned that S.1733 attempts to create a “green” economy by artificially increasing energy costs and investing these funds in new, unproven technologies. The complexity and possible impact of this bill demand careful and full evaluation by lawmakers before passage, the association said.

NATA is worried that lawmakers are trying to push this climate change bill through Congress to “get something passed now.” The future of the U.S. economy deserves full analysis of the bill and careful and deliberate action, not quickly enacted legislation, it argued.

S.1733 is currently undergoing economic analysis by the EPA, and the timetable for completion is uncertain. Following the EPA analysis, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold hearings on the legislation. NATA sees passage of the bill in the Senate as possible but unlikely.

Meanwhile, in an international development on climate change, 190 member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), who represent 93 percent of commercial air traffic, affirmed their commitment to address aviation emissions that contribute to climate change by working through ICAO.

At a high-level ICAO meeting last month, participants reached agreement on the way governments, working together with the industry, intend to reduce aviation’s climate impact. These proposed measures build on the program of action adopted by the Council of the Organization in June, the first globally harmonized agreement to address climate change from a specific sector.

The declaration will form the basis for input by ICAO to discussions on international aviation at the upcoming 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate in Copenhagen next month.