Press Releases

Committee Approves Transparent Airfares Act and Bill to Curb EPA Overreach

Washington, DC, Apr 9 | Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today approved a bill to restore transparency to the advertising of U.S. airline ticket prices and ensure that airfare advertisements are not forced to hide the costs of government from consumers.  The Committee also passed a bill to clarify that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to revoke a federal permit which has already been issued.

The Committee approved the following two measures:

  • H.R. 4156 - Transparent Airfares Act of 2014; approved by voice vote
  • H.R. 524 - To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to disapprove a permit after it has been issued by the Secretary of the Army under section 404 of such Act; approved by roll call vote (34 to 20)
  • The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R. 4156) was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), senior Committee Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA). 

    H.R. 4156 returns transparency to U.S. airline fare advertising by allowing advertisements for passenger air travel to state the base airfare and separately disclose any government imposed taxes and fees and the total cost of travel.  Government imposed taxes and fees constitute approximately $63, or 21 percent, of the cost of a typical $300 domestic roundtrip ticket.

    “Most consumer products are advertised at a base price, with taxes added at the point of purchase, but federal regulations unfairly changed advertising rules for airfares by requiring all taxes and fees to be included in the advertised price of a ticket,” said Shuster and DeFazio.  “These regulations actually hide the cost of government from consumers.  This common sense bill will allow flyers to see the full breakdown of their ticket costs, so they’ll know what they’re paying for the service, and what they’re paying in government imposed taxes and fees.”

    H.R. 524 was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV).  The bill addresses EPA’s extraordinary action of revoking a federal permit which had been issued years prior and setting a disturbing precedent that could have dramatic economic impacts.  In 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Clean Water Act permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine project in West Virginia.  EPA raised objections prior to that, but allowed the permit to go forward.  However, in September 2009, the Obama Administration informed the Corps it planned to revoke parts of the permit, and finalized the revocation in January 2011.  A district court judge issued an opinion in 2012 that accused the EPA of resorting to “magical thinking” to justify its logic for retroactively vetoing the project.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the district court ruling last April, and last month the U.S. Supreme Court determined it would not review the 2013 Appeals Court decision.

    “Allowing the EPA to revoke a federally approved permit for this coal mine sets a dangerous precedent for any other existing or future mine, construction site, manufacturing plant, or anything else requiring a permit,” said Shuster and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH).  “What good is a permit if it was properly obtained but can still be revoked at any time by an overreaching EPA?  If unchecked, this abuse of authority and regulatory uncertainty could have a devastating impact on economic growth, competiveness, and jobs.”

    More information, including video of today’s proceedings, is available here

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