The US House panel discusses low carbon fuel with the airline biofuel industry

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as the background at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, the United States, December 6, 2019. REUTERS / Chris Helgren

By Stephanie Kelly and David Shepardson

NEW YORK / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives met with representatives from the biofuel and aviation industries on Tuesday to discuss ways to expand production of low-carbon aviation fuel, the subcommittee chairman told Reuters.

Part of a broader legislative drive to drive climate and energy legislation, the meeting calls on President Joe Biden’s administration to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonise the US economy by 2050.

The aviation subcommittee of the democratically led House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met with, among others, low-carbon fuel company World Energy, the Advanced Biofuels Association, and Airlines for America, two sources familiar with the meeting.

The biofuel industry group represents approximately 30 companies and the airline industry group represents approximately 10 airlines and delivery companies.

The virtual meeting was intended to educate the members of the subcommittee on what is known as sustainable aviation fuel, an alternative to traditional jet fuel that can be made from animal fat, used cooking oil and vegetable oil, the subcommittee representative, Representative Rick Larsen, told Reuters the meeting.

Such fuels are considered more climate friendly as they help replace dirtier petroleum products while creating new uses for waste that would otherwise be thrown away.

“Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is not currently used much compared to US aviation fuel demand, but it is going online a lot,” said Larsen. “From a political standpoint, the biggest effort is to include the aviation fuel in the blender’s tax credit.”

The meeting focused on the need for coherent policies that would help the market expand, one of the two sources said.

Airlines and renewable fuel manufacturers have promoted sustainable aviation fuel to help reduce CO2 emissions from the aviation industry. However, it is currently expensive to manufacture and requires subsidies to be competitive.

The Biden administration released a new tax proposal last month that includes a tax credit for a sustainable aviation fuel blender, which the Treasury Department said would “enable the decarbonization of an important part of the US transportation sector.”

According to the Air Transport Action Group, a coalition of aviation professionals working on sustainability issues, air travel contributes around 2% to global greenhouse gas emissions.

In March, the Aviation Subcommittee asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to assess issues related to sustainable aviation fuel, including the role the federal government plays in facilitating its development and what U.S. laws or policies impede its production.

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