WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Sustainable Skies Act, new legislation to fight carbon emissions and promote the transition to sustainable aviation fuel. U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Dan Kildee (D-MI-05), and Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) introduced the House companion bill in May.
“Meeting the challenge of climate change requires dramatically reducing emissions across all parts of our economy. The United States can be a leader in the shift to cleaner, more sustainable fuels that will create good-paying jobs across the aviation sector, and I’m pleased that industry and environmental stakeholders are able to come together to support this legislation,” said Senator Brown.
“This legislation is a win-win that reimagines what is possible for the aviation industry by reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, while also creating good-paying jobs that keep our aviation sector competitive,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “With one of the world’s busiest airports, major airlines like Delta and UPS, innovators like LanzaJet, and manufacturers like Gulfstream all in our backyard, this legislation would undoubtedly benefit Georgia companies, workers, and our environment. I look forward to working with Senator Brown and our colleagues to get it over the finish line.”
“The continued growth of the aviation industry and its many benefits to travelers and our economy depends on decarbonizing the sector. 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 my home state with more frequent extreme weather events,” said Senator Cantwell.
“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,” said Senator Murray. “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.”
“Air travel has changed the world and will be a growing part of our future. It is imperative for America to confront the existential challenge of climate change by making air travel cleaner. The Sustainable Skies Act will halve carbon emissions while also enabling more travel and commerce, a win-win for Americans today and our future generations. Implementing sustainable aviation fuels is the single most important step the aviation industry can take to combat climate change. I’m proud to join with Senator Brown in this effort that shares support from both Illinois-based companies, like United and LanzaJet, and climate change champions, like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund,” said Rep. Schneider.
“The multi-year, performance-based tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel deployment this bill proposes will help enable the U.S. airline industry to reach its ambitious goals of making 2 billion gallons of SAF available for U.S. carriers to use in 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “It is precisely the type of government support that is needed as we work together to decarbonize commercial air travel.”
“Pilots play a critical role in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The Sustainable Skies Act is the safest, most expedient way for our industry to substantially reduce our emissions and live up to our international obligations. Creating jobs and reducing emissions is a win-win, and ALPA calls on Congress to swiftly pass this legislation,” said Joe DePete, President Captain of the American Line Pilot Association.
“The use of high-integrity sustainable aviation fuels is critical to reducing aviation’s climate impact. But the high costs of sustainable aviation fuels compared with fossil fuels are a barrier to their production and use. The bill introduced today by Senator Brown shows a strong commitment within Congress to decarbonize the aviation sector. Senator Brown’s introduction of the Sustainable Skies Act, a companion to H.R. 3440 introduced last month by Reps. Schneider, Brownley, and Kildee, aims to address this issue, while upholding rigorous international environmental standards and rewarding fuels with higher environmental integrity – the bigger the fuel’s climate benefit, the bigger the tax credit,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President of Political Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund.
“GE Aviation designs and builds some of the most fuel-efficient engines on the planet, and we were proud to power the industry’s first 100% sustainable aviation fueled flight on a commercial airliner in 2018. Decreasing aviation emissions will take an across-the-board approach, and encouraging greater use of SAF is a key part of that effort. We applaud Senator Brown for his leadership in supporting that work today,” said Mohamed Ali, vice president of engineering for GE Aviation.
Today, air travel accounts for as much as 2.5% of global carbon emissions. The Sustainable Skies Act aims to cut aviation’s carbon emissions in half.
The legislation would create a tax credit starting at $1.50 per gallon for blenders that supply sustainable aviation fuel with a demonstrated 50% or greater lifecycle estimate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard jet fuel. Eligible fuels would need to follow the sustainability criteria established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or comparable standards developed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. 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 bill includes several safeguards. It excludes palm fatty acid distillates (PFAD) as an eligible feedstock due to its environmental record.