New bill in the US would ‘make the rich pay’ for private jet pollution

A new bill in the Senate aims to tax private jet travel
Andrew Mauro /

Two United States (US) Democratic Senators introduced a bill that would “make the rich pay for the public costs of private jet pollution”. 

The Fueling Alternative Transportation with a Carbon Aviation Tax (FATCAT) Act would increase the taxes for fuel used for private jet travel from $0.22 to $1.95 per gallon. According to the two Senators, namely Edward Markey from Massachusetts and Nyda Velazquez from New York, this is equivalent to “an estimated $200 per metric ton of a private jet’s CO2 emissions”. 

If it passes, the act will also remove existing fuel tax exemptions for logging and oil or gas exploration. 

Revenue generated from FATCAT Act would be allocated to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and a newly created federal Clean Communities Trust Fund. These funds will support the monitoring of environment justice communities and long-term investments into clean and affordable public transportation in the US, including passenger rail and buses to and from airports across the country. 

Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse, two Democrats from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, respectively. It is also endorsed by several associations, including Transportation for America, Americans for Tax Fairness, Patriotic Millionaires, Public Citizen, and the Sunrise Movement. 

“The 1 percent can’t free ride on our environment and our infrastructure at a discount,” Markey said, adding that the ultra-wealthy are getting a bargain by paying less taxes to fly private yearly. Yet they “contribute more pollution than millions of drivers combined on the roads below”. 

“It’s time to ground these fat cats and make them pay their fair share so that we can invest in building public transportation that communities across the country and our economy desperately need,” Markey continued. 

Meanwhile, Velazquez pointed out that working families should not pay for the ultra-wealthy to travel privately while at the same time destroying the environment. 

“If billionaires want to travel on private jets, they should pay similar taxes to those flying commercial. It’s time for the rich to pay for their pollution so we can fund environmental justice initiatives and affordable public transportation across the country,” Velazquez concluded. 

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