SAY IT AIN'T SO: Greenhouse-Gas Tax Could Inflate Airfares - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

SAY IT AIN'T SO: Greenhouse-Gas Tax Could Inflate Airfares

USATODAY.COM - A European program to charge airlines for their greenhouse-gas emissions could raise round-trip ticket prices from the United States by more than $30 starting next year.

Environmental groups and some travelers praise the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme as a way to curb climate change. The goal is to spur airlines and manufacturers to build more efficient planes like Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

"Hopefully, this will help them do that a lot faster," says Thomas Buchen, 65, who has flown 4 million miles by traveling as far as Dubai from his home in Williamsburg, Va., to build golf courses. "We're trying to be as environmentally friendly as we can."

But airlines are fighting the program aggressively in court and in the political arena. The meter starts running Jan. 1 on fees that U.S. airlines estimate will cost them $3.1 billion over the next decade.

The U.S. House voted Oct. 24 to prohibit airlines from participating in the program.

And a vote is expected Wednesday in Montreal by an international group that sets policy for aviation safety and environmental standards. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is expected to oppose the European scheme, amid growing outrage in China, Russia and India.

"If imposed on Jan. 1, this tax could close down direct travel from most central and western U.S. airports to Europe, and remaining airline ticket costs would skyrocket," says Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., head of the House transportation committee. "This ill-conceived EU aviation tax scheme is a violation of international law."

The debate will play out over the next few months. A European court will decide whether the program should proceed. If successful, Europe could forge ahead despite international opposition. Or an international political compromise could be negotiated. Click here to read more from USAToday.com

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