Cantwell, Murray, Colleagues Propose New Federal Credit for Biojet Fuel

Sustainable Skies Act would provide up to $2 per gallon tax credit to spur production and use of sustainable aviation fuels, lower greenhouse gas emissions. Port of Seattle says credit “will significantly advance the Port’s ability to meet goal of fueling every flight out of Sea-Tac with at least 10% SAF by 2028.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) partnered with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) to introduce new legislation to promote the use of locally sourced biomass to power air travel.  Today, air travel accounts for around 2% of global carbon emissions, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that aviation emissions could grow by 300-700% by 2050 without initiatives to reduce aviation sector emissions.

“The continued growth of the aviation industry and its many benefits to travelers and our economy depends on decarbonizing the sector,” said Senator Cantwell. “Washington state has always been a leader in aviation innovation and we are now primed to both produce and use biomass derived jet fuels.  This legislation will provide critical federal tax incentives to spur the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels and help us tackle the climate crisis already impacting our home state with more frequent extreme weather events.”

“The Sustainable Skies Act will help us reduce emissions and encourage development of more sustainable alternative fuels to tackle the urgent threat of the climate crisis – all while creating jobs in Washington state and across the country,” Senator Murray said. “Washington state has long been a leader in aviation innovation, and this legislation will help us continue that leadership and move us towards a more sustainable future.” 

Since 2008, businesses, governments, nonprofits and research institutions across Washington state have been working together through the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest initiative to lead the nation in Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).  Leading companies like Alaska Airlines and Boeing have begun trials of SAFs made from feedstocks ranging from wood waste, to camelina weeds, to used cooking oil, to algae.

The legislation would create a tax credit starting at $1.50 per gallon for blenders that supply sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) with a demonstrated 50% or greater lifecycle estimate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard jet fuel. In order to incentivize innovation and greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the legislation provides an additional credit of $0.01/gallon for each percentage the fuel reduces emissions over 50% -- for instance, an SAF that reduces emissions by 70% would receive a credit of $1.70/gallon. The tax credit would expire at the end of 2031.

To ensure environmental integrity, the Sustainable Skies Act includes several safeguards. It excludes palm fatty acid distillates as an eligible feedstock and requires eligible SAFs to utilize the full suite of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sustainability criteria, including accounting for both aggregate attributional core lifecycle emissions and the induced land use change.

Port of Seattle Commission President Fred Felleman also spoke in support saying, “The Port of Seattle offers our deepest thanks to Senator Cantwell for her leadership in introducing the Sustainable Skies Act. By creating incentives to increase the supply and affordability of SAF, the Sustainable Skies Act will significantly advance the Port’s ability to meet our goal of fueling every flight out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) with at least 10 percent SAF by 2028. The Port of Seattle appreciates Senator Cantwell’s ongoing leadership to support innovation to address the climate crisis, and we are committed to working with Senator Cantwell to help make this policy a reality.”