Aviation groups pressure Obama to ground European airline emissions rules

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"And it is the right position for the environment, since it will foster implementation of a truly international approach to aviation greenhouse gas emissions that will produce a better environmental outcome than a unilateral scheme," the letter continued.

Obama has not said much about the European emission standards, which took effect on Jan. 1 of this year, though his Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, called them "lousy."

Airlines have said they will not have to begin making payments for emissions on flights to countries within the EU until April 2013, but the rules have already generated requests for the president to step in from both sides. A coalition of environmental advocates called last month for Obama to block Congress from requiring a protest from being filed with the ICAO.

Under the rules at the center of pleas for presidential help from both sides of the flight emissions debate, airlines will have to reduce their emissions from 2006 levels by 3 percent by 2013 and 5 percent by 2020.

The enforcement mechanisms and fines for noncompliance are similar to cap-and-trade proposals environmentalists once tried to push in the United States.

The aviation groups writing to Obama Monday argued that the airline industry "has a tremendous fuel efficiency and emissions-savings record.

"We have achieved this by investing hundreds of billions of dollars in new aircraft, new engines and new equipment," the groups wrote. "Because fuel costs represent about 40 percent of our operating costs, we are already highly incentivized to reduce our fuel consumption and emissions. That’s why our industry represents just 2 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States while driving 5 percent of the nation’s GDP."

LaHood has said he thinks the EU emission rules are "bad policy," but he has said in congressional testimony that he would not comment further about "pending legislation." The House has passed a bill objecting to the EU emission standard, but the full Senate has yet to take a vote on the measure.

The letter in opposition to them Monday was signed by the Aerospace Industries Association; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Air Line Pilots Association; Airlines for America; Airports Council International — North America; American Society of Travel Agents Cargo Airline Association; Consumer Travel Alliance; General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Global Business Travel Association; Independent Pilots Association; Interactive Travel Services Association; National Air Carrier Association; National Air Transportation Association; National Business Aviation Association; Professional Aviation Safety Specialists; Regional Airline Association; U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.