Tuesday, November 28, 2023
HomeUS GovernmentUS Carriers & Ethanol Firms Write To Government Over SAF Regulatory Change

US Carriers & Ethanol Firms Write To Government Over SAF Regulatory Change

Summary Major US airlines, including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines, are requesting that ethanol-based sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) qualify for subsidies to help reduce their carbon footprint economically.
Representatives from other sectors, such as General Electric and Boeing, also support this request, believing that subsidizing ethanol-based fuels will help in achieving sustainability goals.
Critics argue that including ethanol in subsidies may not accurately account for its emissions, but the Biden administration will need to prioritize decarbonization in the carbon-intensive aviation industry.
Last week, on November 1, major US airlines aligned themselves with the ethanol industry in requesting that Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) derived from corn-based ethanol products qualify for the same subsidies as other SAF fuels. Specifically, airlines such as Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines signed a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen requesting an adjustment in policies regarding tax benefits for airlines that use ethanol-based fuels.
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The carriers were not alone in this pursuit, as the letter was also co-signed by representatives from other sectors, including multinational manufacturing conglomerate General Electric (GE) and American planemaker Boeing. Together, the parties believe that by allowing subsidies for ethanol-based fuels, airlines could reduce their carbon footprint in a far more economical fashion.
The current regulations
Throughout his presidential term, President Biden has continually advocated for the expansion of tax benefits to those carriers that use sustainable alternatives to traditional jet fuel. Currently, the set of incentives requires that carriers reduce emissions by 50% in order to guarantee the provision of subsidies.
Photo: Alexiushan | Shutterstock
Biden’s policies follow in line with the industry as a whole. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently developed a model to reduce emissions by over 50% through the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, such as those based on cooking oils developed by Finnish energy company Neste.
So what do the airlines want?
For airlines, one of the cheapest sustainable alternatives is corn-based ethanol fuel, which certainly reduces emissions in comparison to traditional fuels. Recently, the Department of Energy developed a new model for sustainable fuel use known as the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies (GREET) system, which incorporates the use of ethanol.
Photo: Airbus
The ethanol industry is, unexpectedly, strongly in support of incorporating this model into Biden’s system of incentives for airlines. The letter to Yellen, which was signed by ethanol industry titans POET Llc and Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), included the following statement:



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