US Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have introduced potential legislation to cut carbon pollution in the USA by 17% in 2020 and by more than 80% in 2050.
The bill is being introduced in the midst of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and provides US coastal states certain rights to veto drilling plans if they determine their given state could suffer "significant adverse impacts" from an accident.
Aviation is not addressed specifically in the proposed legislation, and it is not immediately clear what the result would be on US carriers if this particular version of climate change legislation is successful in gaining full Congressional approval.
The Senators state their legislation titled the "American Power Act", includes separate, targeted mechanisms for the three major emitting sectors - power plants, heavy industry and transportation.
Language in the proposed legislation states if "no global agreement on climate change is reached, the bill requires imports from countries that have not taken action to limit emissions to pay a comparable amount at the border to avoid carbon leakage".
Under the proposed bill's "blocking market manipulation" scheme, only the largest sources of pollution would comply with reduction targets, which means entities producing more than 25,000 tons (22,700 metric tonnes) of carbon pollution annually. "This means the programme only focuses on 7,500 factories and power plants," say the Senators.
The US lobbying group the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), says it is thoroughly reviewing the bill, stressing it has committed to a global aviation industry commitment that would result in US airlines saving more than 16 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions through 2050. "We trust that if Congress pursues this legislation, it will adopt this approach versus imposing punitive industry and passenger taxes," says ATA CEO James May.