Democrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises

Democrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises
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A group of eight Democratic senators says that any possible aid for airlines and cruises that are dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus should include requirements that these industries act in a way that is more environmentally friendly.

“Given the poor environmental records of some companies in these industries, we believe that any such financial assistance should be paired with requirements that companies act in a more responsible fashion,” the senators wrote in their Wednesday letter to House and Senate leadership.

“Air travel currently accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions globally, and commercial aviation emissions are expected to triple by 2050. The foreign-flagged cruise industry has a checkered environmental record and most passenger liners burn heavy fuel oil, one of the dirtiest fuels,” they added. 

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Providing financial assistance to airlines has been discussed in Congress, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE has expressed support for giving a boost to both the airline and cruise industries.

The Democrats on Wednesday described this as an opportunity to help the environment.

“Given the large carbon footprint of commercial aviation, requiring reductions in carbon emissions would represent a major step in curbing our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Requiring reductions in carbon pollution from foreign-flagged cruise ships, as well as reductions in other air pollutants and increased penalties for illegal dumping, would result in cleaner air and a healthier ocean,” they wrote.

“If we give the airline and cruise industries assistance without requiring them to be better environmental stewards, we would miss a major opportunity to combat climate change and ocean dumping,” they added.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights | Court sides with tribes in Dakota Access Pipeline case | Trump officials walk away from ethanol court fight Coronavirus package punts on environmental fights Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' MORE (R.I.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises Coronavirus takes toll on Capitol Hill GOP chairman cancels Hunter Biden-related subpoena vote MORE (N.M.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: Critics blast EPA move as 'license to pollute' during pandemic | Trump expected to roll back Obama mileage standards| Group plans to sue over rollback of water law Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Chinese official's virus disinformation doesn't violate rules | Hackers target WHO | Senators urge agencies to stop coronavirus robocalls Senators urge FCC, DOJ to combat coronavirus robocalls MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress Lawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers MORE (Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCoronavirus stimulus talks hit setback as crisis deepens Democrats call for stimulus to boost Social Security benefits by 0 a month Senate negotiators near agreement on keeping rebates in coronavirus stimulus package MORE (Mich.), Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises Democratic Senators introduce bill to provide free coronavirus testing Democratic senators ask prison operators for answers on coronavirus plans MORE (Minn.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (N.J.).

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A spokesperson for industry group Cruise Lines International Association pushed back on the senators' characterization in a statement to The Hill, saying, "The cruise industry has always been a leader in responsible tourism, including its commitment to environmental sustainability."

"These are unprecedented times for our entire community, including the tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, many of them travel agents, who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihoods. We are committed to seeing our partners in the industry through this crisis and we are looking to Congress for their support for this critical community as well," the spokesperson said.

Some of these lawmakers have previously expressed support for making this assistance conditional. 

“Carbon offsets should be a condition for any such bailouts,” Whitehouse tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Airlines that want public support should live public values.” 

On Monday, the airline industry asked the government for more than $50 billion in aid, as it has seen a decrease in customers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Others, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJoe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE (D-N.Y.), have pushed back on this for a different reason, saying aid should go to workers instead of major companies.