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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 TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization 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 WhitehouseHelping students make informed decisions on college Lawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats Judge's decision on Barr memo puts spotlight on secretive DOJ office MORE (R.I.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Senate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (N.M.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyRon Johnson calls cyber attacks an 'existential' threat following Colonial Pipeline shutdown Senators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits Civilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySchumer in bind over fight to overhaul elections Sanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy MORE (Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Let America's farmers grow climate solutions The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal MORE (Mich.), Tina SmithTina Flint SmithTo reverse the teaching shortage in low-income communities, give educators incentive to stay Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Sharpton eulogizes Daunte Wright: 'Tags of racism' have expired MORE (Minn.) and Cory BookerCory BookerPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Almost 20 advocacy groups team up to pressure Congress to pass health care bill for immigrants Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines 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 SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE (D-N.Y.), have pushed back on this for a different reason, saying aid should go to workers instead of major companies.