Apr 2, 2012 Issues: Transportation

Rep. Petri currently serves as the Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee.  In this position, Congressman Petri is tasked with overseeing our national aviation program and the Federal Aviation Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation. Issues under the Subcommittee's jurisdiction include aviation infrastructure, aviation safety, operational and administrative matters within the FAA, and the air traffic control system.

Please use this page as a guide to related issues and to track legislative activity on aviation.


November 27, 2012

Today, President Obama signed into law S. 1956, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Prohibition Act of 2011.  The new law directs the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit U.S. aircraft operators from participating in the ETS. 

In January 2012, the European Union (EU) began to unilaterally apply its ETS to all civil aviation operators landing in or departing from one of the EU Member States.  Earlier this month, the EU announced that it was going to postpone the application of the ETS on international operators until 2014.  Prior to that announcement, EU Member States would have required international air carriers and operators to pay for emission allowances and, in some cases, penalties for carbon emissions starting in April 2013.  While this postponement is a good first step, it is not a total withdrawal of this illegal scheme, so we still need this law to ensure U.S. operators and consumers are protected.

The EU ETS is legally questionable because the EU is taxing air carriers for emissions outside its airspace.  For example, for a flight from Los Angeles to London, taxes would be levied and paid to the U.K. for the entire portion of the flight -- including that over the U.S., Canada, and international waters.  The scheme also raises legal concerns under international law.  Many other countries around the world have joined the U.S. in opposing this unilateral move and instead support emissions talks through the International Civil Aviation Organization.

I applaud President Obama for taking action by signing this bill into law and ensuring that U.S. airlines and passengers will be protected from this scheme.

June 27, 2012

I was pleased to cosponsor an amendment offered by Rep. Chip Cravaack (and also cosponsored by Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerry Costello) to the fiscal year 2013 spending bill for the Transportation Department (H.R. 5972).   The House adopted the amendment that evening and the bill passed a few days later on June 29.

The amendment prohibits any funds provided in the bill from being used to further the implementation of the European Union's illegal emissions trading scheme (EU ETS).  Member States of the EU will require international carriers to pay emissions allowances, and in some cases penalties, for carbon emissions for the entire length of a flight -- including that part of a flight outside the European air space.  The EU has no jurisdiction over airspace outside its boundaries, the ETS is in violation of international law, and there is no guarantee the fees collected from our carriers would be used for climate change or any other environmental purpose.  The U.S. -- like most of the rest of the world -- continues to fight against this Scheme.

April 25, 2012

Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Petri presided over a hearing today to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) safety oversight of the United States’ aviation system.  While the U.S. aviation system is the safest in the world, the Subcommittee held the hearing to help ensure continued improvement.  Testimony was received from officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the General Accountability Office, as well as representatives of airlines, pilots and repair stations.  Topics explored included operational errors, pilot fatigue and pilot training requirements, safety management systems, and oversight of repair stations.

For more information, witness testimony and video of the hearing, click here.

March 28, 2012

Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Petri presided over a roundtable discussion of the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) which will impose a tax on U.S. airlines payable to European countries for carbon emissions for flights to or from the EU.  Unfortunately, the tax will be calculated on the entire flight and the EU does not control air space outside its territory.  Therefore, the U.S. and virtually every other non-EU country is fighting this proposal which is an illegal tax scheme.  It is estimated airlines will have to pay over $3 billion to Europe between 2012 and 2020 and those revenues do not have to be put toward reducing emissions or any other environmental purpose.  In essence, it is a revenue raiser for the EU.  The U.S. and other nations believe any climate change programs should be coordinated by the International Civil Aviation Organization.  Last year, the House passed a bill directing the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit participation by U.S. carriers in ETS and now a similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.   Participants in the roundtable included officials from the Department of State, the Department of Transportation and various aviation representatives.

March 1, 2012

On March 1, a bipartisan group of 195 Members of the House sent a letter to President Obama expressing opposition to the proposed $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation in his fiscal year 2013 budget request.  These fees, which could cost the industry up to $1 billion per year, would have a devastating impact on airlines and consumers, general aviation, and aviation manufacturing.  In light of the repeated rejection by the House of aviation user fees over the years, the Members ask that the President "abandon this idea once and for all."  As Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, Rep. Petri teamed up with Rep. Jerry Costello, ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee, and the co-chairs of the House General Aviation Caucus to organize the letter.  To read the letter, click here

February 2012

After several years of tough discussions and negotiations, the House and Senate finally reached agreement on a 4-year FAA reauthorization bill, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  The House and Senate passed the conference report in early February, and President Obama signed it into law on February 14 (Public Law 112-95).   Although it took longer than it should have, this is one of the few examples this Congress where we worked together on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to get something done.

Approximately $15.9 billion is authorized annually through the end of fiscal year 2015.  It provides funding and includes other provisions to accelerate the effort to modernize our nation's air traffic control system from 1950s ground-based radar to a satellite-based system (the modernization effort is known as NextGen).  The new law provides $3.35 billion per year for airport infrastructure development, and it also includes many other important consumer protection, safety, and environmental improvements.

October 24, 2011

Today, the House passed H.R. 2594, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011.  This bill would prohibit U.S. air carriers or aircraft operators from participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).   It also instructs U.S. officials to negotiate or take any action necessary to ensure U.S. aviation operators are not penalized by any unilaterally imposed EU scheme.

Starting in January 2012, international flights operating to and from the EU will be required to pay for carbon allowances for emissions for the entire flight.  So for a flight from Los Angeles to London, a U.S. airline would be responsible to the EU for emissions that occur over the continental U.S., Canada and international waters.  The EU only has jurisdiction over its own airspace, so to impose a tax on U.S. carriers for operations outside its airspace is beyond the EU's jurisdiction and is illegal. The Obama administration testified at an Aviation Subcommittee hearing in July (chaired by Rep. Petri) that the ETS is inconsistent with international aviation law.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has generated opposition from countries around the world -- over 20 countries have signed on to a joint declaration against the EU ETS, and even some EU states have raised questions about proceeding with the plan.  A better approach to reduce emissions in this global industry is to work through the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization to establish consensus-driven initiatives.

For more information click here.

October 7, 2011

Today, 119 Members of the House sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction expressing their opposition to the Administration's proposal to impose a $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation.  This would amount to over $1 billion in fees on our nation's airlines each year and hundreds of millions of dollars each year on general aviation.  These costs likely would be passed on to consumers and/or result in service cuts and lost jobs, hindering our economic recovery.  The letter, organized by Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri and Ranking Democratic Member Jerry Costello, stated, "Imposing a new fee on the aviation industry in order to raise revenue would have a devastating impact on the aviation industry and fails to achieve our shared goal of improving the economy and creating jobs."

Click here to view the letter.

September 13, 2011

The House passed by voice vote H.R. 2887, the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011, that would extend the FAA programs and taxes (which were due to expire on September 16) until January 31, 2012. This further extension was necessary in order to keep the FAA operating and funded while the House and Senate continue final negotiations on a long-term reauthorization. The Senate passed the bill on September 15 by a vote of 92 - 6, and it was signed into law by the President the next day. The bill also extended surface transportation programs through March 31, 2012.

September 8, 2011:

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on September 8, 2011, approved a bill, managed by Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri, directing the Secretary of Transportation to prohibit U.S.-flagged carriers from participating in the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme.  Starting in January 2012, air carriers landing in or departing from the EU will have to account for and potentially be charged a fee for emissions on all segments of a flight -- including that segment that is not in EU airspace.  The Administration through the State Department and the Department of Transportation has been fighting this plan.   H.R. 2594, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011, is meant to support the Administration's efforts.  The unilateral action on the part of the EU to essentially impose an extraterritorial tax on U.S. carriers is illegal and of questionable benefit.  Other countries are joining the U.S. in objecting to the ETS.

Chairman Petri's Committee statement can be viewed here.

August 5, 2011:

Chairman Petri made the following statement on the Senate Democrats’ decision to pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension, which the House of Representatives had previously approved on July 20th:

“I am pleased that the FAA extension issue has been resolved, and now everybody at that agency will be able to get back to work overseeing civilian aviation and modernizing our air traffic control system.  And I am glad that private sector construction workers will be able to return to their jobs improving our airports.

“The House and the Senate had some differences over how to proceed, and so I want to commend the Senate for putting disagreements aside by choosing the only way available for getting the FAA back in business quickly. 

“While I am relieved that we will have yet another temporary extension in place, we really need to get a long-term reauthorization done so we don’t find ourselves in the same place Sept. 16.  This has gone on long enough.”

August 3, 2011:

Although the House has passed its version of the FAA bill, the Senate has yet to act.  The FAA shut down on July 22, and has furloughed 4,000 employees and over 70,000 construction workers.  Below are Rep. Petri's comments on the continued shutdown.

"I again urge the Senate to approve the House-passed extension and send it to the President for his signature.  The partial FAA shutdown could be ended immediately.  The Senate has failed to pass any extension in the two weeks since we passed ours, and the House extension is the only bill that will go directly to the President to be signed into law.  The affected employees should not be victims of misplaced concerns over process and prerogatives that mean little to those out of work.  We need to end this impasse and get the FAA and construction workers back on the job.

"As to the inclusion of the Essential Air Service reforms in the House bill, these are modest reforms which the Senate should consider on their merits.  In fact, earlier this year the Senate approved similar provisions but the Senators are now refusing to let us agree with them."

July 27, 2011

Today, Rep. Tom Petri chaired an Aviation Subcommittee hearing on the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  Starting in January 2012, the EU will require international carriers landing in or departing from one of the EU Member States to purchase emission "allowances" and may even in some cases assess penalties.  A major problem is that the ETS will apply to the entire length of the flight -- including those parts outside of European air space (for a San Francisco to London flight, less than 10% of the flight would be over Europe, but the fee would apply to the entire flight).

The Air Transport Association testified that U.S. carriers (i.e. U.S. air travelers) will have to pay to EU Member countries as much as $3.5 billion from 2012 to 2020.   And, there is no requirement that the EU countries use the fees for environmental purposes -- they can go into the general treasury and be used for non-transportation, non-environmental purposes.   The U.S. strongly believes the entire scheme is a violation of international law and, since reducing emissions is a global issue for a global industry, such efforts should be dealt with by the International Civil Aviation Organization.  Other countries have joined the U.S. in opposing the ETS.

In a display of bipartisanship, House Republicans and Democrats have introduced H.R. 2594, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011.  As Rep. Petri stated at the hearing, "We intend to move this bipartisan legislation in the near future to make clear to the EU and the international community that the United States does not intend to participate in a unilaterally imposed process."

For more information, please click here.

July 22, 2011

The Senate left town for the weekend today without passing the FAA extension that was passed by the House on Wednesday, July 20.  The extension passed by the House would have kept the FAA fully operating to September 16 while negotiations on the final remaining issues of the long-term reauthorization bill continued.  Because the Senate objected to two small, common sense reforms to the Essential Air Service program (including one that was included in the reauthorization bill passed by the Senate) that were included in the House-passed extension, there will be a partial shutdown of the FAA as of midnight tonight.

While air traffic control and safety personnel will remain on the job and the traveling public will be safe, airport grants and other activities such as Next Gen air traffic control modernization will be halted.  It is unfortunate that approximately 4,000 FAA employees will be furloughed, and Rep. Petri hopes that this impasse will be resolved quickly and that the agency is up and running at full speed as soon as possible.

For more information, please click here.

July 21, 2011

After negotiations stalled between the House and Senate on final wording of a long-term FAA bill, the House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday to extend Federal Aviation Administration operations.  The House and Senate must agree on a final version of the legislation to avoid disruptions which could occur if the FAA's authority to operate is allowed to expire Friday, July 22.

One provision (which is supported by Chairman Petri) that has created some controversy could save up to $20 million by reducing subsidies which support commercial airline service to small airports under the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.

Petri contends that the government should not be providing "essential" service to airports which are within 90 miles of a large or medium hub airport.  Read more here.

July 20, 2011

Petri joins a bipartisan group of House Transportation Committee leaders to introduce legislation to ban U.S. air carriers from participating in the Emissions Trading Scheme that would tax U.S. airlines flying into and out of the European Union.

The “European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011,” (H.R. 2594)  is a strong response to EU plans to impose a costly fee on any U.S. airline flights landing in or departing from EU airports.  Beginning on January 1, 2012, all airlines would be forced to participate in the EU’s emissions scheme despite the objections of the Obama administration and now Congress.

For more information, please click here.


June 22, 2011

Rep. Petri co-chaired a joint oversight hearing to examine potential impacts on U.S. aviation safety in light of pending government action that may affect Global Positioning System (GPS) reliability.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a proposal by LightSquared Subsidiary, LLC to build out nationwide broadband internet infrastructure.  This plan would allow high-power internet broadcast stations to be built across the country broadcasting on the spectrum neighboring the low-powered GPS signal.

For more on this, please click here.

April 1, 2011

Petri applauds the House passage of the FAA reauthorization to fund the agency for the next four years.

The last FAA bill expired in 2007, and Rep. Petri, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, was pleased to see the House pass a reauthorization. The House also passed reauthorization bills in 2007 and 2009, but the Senate did not act in the 110th Congress and the House and Senate were unable to reach agreement on a final bill last Congress.

For more on the reauthorization, please click here.

March 24, 2011

House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri is demanding answers after pilots on two late-night airline flights into Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport couldn't get a response when they called the airport's control tower for landing instructions. Reports indicate that the air traffic controller on duty may have been asleep. Petri is following this incident closely to determine whether congressional action is necessary.

For more on the incident and Petri's response, please click here.

February 23, 2011

As Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, Rep. Petri presided over two hearings regarding the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. A few days later, he joined in the introduction of a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill (H.R. 658). The full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the bill February 16, and the full House is expected to consider it in early March.  For more on this please click here.

Passage of a long-term FAA bill is one of Rep. Petri's top priorities.

The bill provides funding for aviation safety programs, operations, and airport grants. One important initiative is the strengthening of NextGen, the multi-year program to modernize our air traffic control system.

The last reauthorization expired in 2007, and the agency has been operating under a series of extensions. While the House has passed a reauthorization in the last two Congresses, final agreement has not been reached with the Senate. This time, there is renewed hope that a bill will be sent to the President in the near future as the Senate is now as committed as the House in getting this done. In fact, the Senate passed its reauthorization bill last week. 


Sites of Interest

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

House Subcommittee on Aviation

Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security

Federal Aviation Administration

National Transportation Safety Board

U.S. Department of Transportation