Washington (July 19, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) today announced the introduction of the Fueling Alternative Transportation with a Carbon Aviation Tax (FATCAT) Act, legislation that would increase fuel taxes for private jet travel from the current $0.22 to $1.95 per gallon—the equivalent of an estimated $200 per metric ton of a private jet’s CO2 emissions—and remove existing fuel tax exemptions for logging and oil or gas exploration. Tax revenue generated by the FATCAT Actwould be transferred to the Airport & Airway Trust Fund and a newly created federal Clean Communities Trust Fund to support air monitoring for environmental justice communities and long-term investments in clean, affordable public transportation across the country—including passenger rail and bus routes near commercial airports.
Private air travel is the most energy-intense form of travel. Per passenger, private jets pollute up to 14 times more than commercial flights and 50 times more than trains, producing as much emissions as millions of cars every year in the United States. Despite their sky-high emissions per passenger, private air travel is taxed considerably less than commercial air travel.
“The 1 percent can’t free ride on our environment and our infrastructure at a discount,”said Senator Markey. “Billionaires and the ultra-wealthy are getting a bargain, paying less in taxes each year to fly private and 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.”
“Working families shouldn't subsidize the ultra-wealthy to fly private and destroy our environment,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “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.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
Cosponsors include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
The legislation is endorsed by Transportation for America, Americans for Tax Fairness, Patriotic Millionaires, Public Citizen, and the Sunrise Movement.
“Private air travel is one of my greatest loves in this world – there really is nothing like it. But after learning about the disproportionate damage that private air travelers wreak on the environment, I made the decision to sell my private jet this past May. I could no longer in good conscience continue to put my convenience and comfort ahead of the good of the planet. I highly doubt that other wealthy jet owners will follow my example. But if my wealthy peers are going to willfully destroy the planet, the least they can do is pay for it – which they haven’t been doing for some time. By increasing the excise tax on fuel used by private jets, Senator Markey’s new bill takes a step in righting this wrong. It’s not going to stop the ultra-rich from flying private altogether, but it will at least make them pay some of the social and ecological costs for their selfish habit,” said Stephen Prince, Founder of Card Marketing Services and Vice-Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires.
“When I was a little girl, I used to love the trips that my family and I took on our private jet. Now I know better. Last Friday, I was arrested at the East Hampton Airport in Wainscott, NY while lying on the ground, protesting the use of private jets by my wealthy peers. I had a change of heart on private air travel after fully appreciating how damaging they are to the environment. And as we’ve all seen over the last week, our environment is in serious trouble. Climate change is not some far-off worry for our grandchildren to handle: it’s here now, and will only get worse if we don’t take major and immediate action to stop it. Through their private jet use (and other excesses), the rich are the ones driving our world’s most existential problem. Therefore, it is only right that they pay the cost. By putting a steep price tag on private jet fuel, Senator Markey’s bill meets the mark here, and will hopefully work to disincentivize this most destructive practice,” said Abigail Disney, Philanthropist and Social Activist.
“Our upside-down tax system has given preference to the wealthiest for too long. If the wealthiest were paying their fair share in federal taxes, there would be more revenue entering the system to fund services and programs that we all rely on, including ensuring that we have clean air and safe drinking water. An Increase in Excise Tax for Fuel Use by Private Jets begins to right this system, taxing a luxury item that the richest use,” said David Kass, Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness.
“The private jet class may be under the delusion that they can fly away from their responsibility for worsening the climate crisis, but Senator Edward Markey’s FATCAT bill lands just in time to correct that misimpression,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “This bill taxes some of the most climate destructive activity of the super-rich and invests the revenues to promote public transportation and environmental justice, a double win for climate justice.”
“Transportation is the major emissions contributor in the United States,” said Benito Pérez, Policy Director of Transportation for America. “It is critically important that those who are contributing the most to this problem are held accountable. At the same time, we need to incentivize and invest in clean and sustainable mobility choices for communities that are most impacted by harmful emissions. This bill takes important steps to accomplish both of these goals.”
“Private jet users should pay the real environmental costs of their indefensible luxury transportation choice. Senator Markey’s legislation is a bold step in right direction and generates funds for urgently needed transportation alternatives,” said Chuck Collins, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good of Institute for Policy Studies and Co-author of High Flyers 2023: How Ultra-Rich Private Jet Travel Costs the Rest of Us and Burns Up the Planet.
“Raising the jet fuel tax is a no-brainer. Private flights already contributed 37 million tons of CO2 in the last few years, which are driving the heat, wildfires and floods that so many of us are experiencing right now. If you’re riding in a private jet, your net worth is likely over $100 million, and you can afford to pay a little more so the rest of us can survive,” said Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of Sunrise Movement.
Senator Markey has long pushed for reducing emissions from the transportation sector. Senator Markey has championed vehicle emission and fuel economy standards, such as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That law included then-Congressman Markey’s language that set the standard to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and required the “maximum feasible standard” to be set every year. In April of this year, Senators Markey and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) celebrated the Environmental Protection Agency for heeding their calls to swiftly issue regulations to curb greenhouse gases among other pollutants for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles for Model Year 2027 and beyond. Senator Markey also supported emission reductions from ports and vessels through the Expanding Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program (META) Act.