Airlines Join White House Effort for Cleaner Jet Fuel
September 9, 2021
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  • Biden administration plans to put up $4.3 billion to lower jet-fuel emissions by 20%

    The Biden administration announced a new effort to clean up jet fuel, aiming to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by one-fifth before the end of the decade.

    The initiative would spend $4.3 billion from more than half a dozen agencies on one of the hardest-to-address contributors to climate change. Aircraft account for about 2% of global carbon-dioxide emissions. Yet there are few options currently available for replacing oil-based jet fuel or containing its emissions, while demand from air travelers is expected to grow in the coming years.

    Airlines for America, a trade group for U.S. air carriers and shippers, has agreed to collaborate with the federal government and raise its own targets for using lower-emissions energy. Their goal is to find a commercially viable fuel that is better for the environment, and have 3 billion gallons available of it to U.S. carriers by 2030, according to the White House. U.S. airlines used 18.3 billion gallons of jet fuel in 2019.

    Several of their members have announced their own plans to spend millions of dollars on helping to develop so-called sustainable aviation fuel or have promised to buy such fuel. Those projects include partnerships between Southwest Airlines Co. and the Energy Department; United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Honeywell International Inc. ; and Delta Air Lines Inc., Chevron Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

    The White House said it would be committing research-and-development money as part of the project, prioritizing cleaner jet fuel with agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration. The largest chunk, $3 billion, is slated to come from the Energy Department in loan guarantees.

    The White House is also touting President Biden’s history of support for a tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel, which would need approval by Congress. It would cut costs and help rapidly boost domestic production, according to the White House.

    “These steps will help make progress toward our climate goals for 2030 and are essential to unlocking the potential for a fully zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050,” the White House said in a fact sheet about the initiative.