Aviation Groups Call For Regulatory Changes To Support SAF

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A coalition of aviation companies and organizations is calling for regulatory changes aimed at supporting wide-scale commercialization of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). In a letter (PDF) to National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, the coalition asked for five “fixes” to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) annual rule. The suggested changes include allowing SAF feedstock to be processed at more than two facilities, allowing biointermediate feedstock—defined as feedstocks that have been partially converted at one facility but sent to a separate facility for final processing—to be sold to more than one refinery, updating the definition of “biocrude,” allowing for commingling of biointermediates, and authorizing the use of pipeline biogas for SAF.

“Today, the aviation industry stands united in calling for sound regulatory and legislative policies that will foster increased production of SAF—a cleaner, more sustainable, drop-in fuel that is crucial to meeting our industry’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Karen Huggard, National Air Transportation Association (NATA) managing director of legislative affairs and industry relations. “The broad range of stakeholders who came together on this letter demonstrates the importance of SAF to all sectors of aviation, as well as the necessity of removing regulatory roadblocks that stand in the way of increased production.”

The letter also asked for additional participation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the SAF Grand Challenge. The SAF Grand Challenge was introduced by the White House last September with the goal of increasing the U.S.’s domestic SAF production from its current rate of 4.5 million gallons a year to 3 billion gallons annually by 2030. Among the letter’s 42 signatories were Boeing, GE Aviation, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Gulfstream, Helicopter Association International (HAI), Honeywell, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), NATA, Rolls Royce, Shell Aviation and United Airlines.

Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. We already have a renewable, sustainable fuel source. It’s called oil. Through fracking we have a limitless supply of inexpensive, powerful, clean energy created by God through the never-ending decomposition of organic matter, ie plants and living things. Liquid fuels can also be made from coal and natural gas, and the US has vast quantities of both. All we need is to get the government and enviros (Putin’s stooges) out of the way. Using food to make jet fuel is irresponsible and little more than a gift to the crony companies that make biofuel plants. And to large agricultural companies. Even the greenies of the Sierra Club oppose ethanol. Stop this biofuel madness and get back to good-old Dino-fuel. The same for those silly battery airplanes, sheer madness.

    • As it takes ~100 million years for plant life to turn into oil, and there are only certain periods where it was possible, it cannot be “limitless” by definition. Especially since your Earth is only a few thousand years old. We’ll literally have to make it as we need it, as it becomes more expensive as low-hanging-fruit wells disappear. Fracking can be an ecological nightmare, BTW. Keep it out from near my water table.
      Whether you believe that burning fossil fuels causes global warming or not, it does indeed increase CO2 levels. By making our own we can control that.

      • Your evidence is?
        Or are you falling for the scam of trashy movie makers who had to plumb natural gas into a house water system to get fire out of a water tap?

        You omit human ingenuity – read The Doomsday Myth which chronicles cries of shortage that never occurred, even in the face of gummint force. Doom predictors FAIL, because people conserve and find alternatives.

        You should be glad that people in the US were developing good ‘artificial rubber’ while Britain and The Netherlands blocked research there to maintain a near-monopoly on supply of rubber from trees – but their butt was saved by Americans when Nationalsozialistiche Germany impeded shipments from SE Asia.

        Earlier Brazil forbid taking pieces of rubber trees out of the country, but of course someone managed to take cuttings out to SE Asia – and “the rest is history.”

        Along the path to good ‘artificial rubber’ was obtaining latex from milkweed plants, a big operation in the NE quadrant of the US. Latex was superior to ‘artificial rubber’ of the time for aircrew masks. Monarch butterflies may have been pleased.

      • Just about everything said is here by Richard P is false. I spent more than a decade working with the R&D groups for a large multinational oil company. The most common thread of inside the park conversations regarding the supply of petroleum was that “the world will never run out of oil”. Fracing has been a rapidly evolving methodology at least in the US, and does not pollute ground water, and uses materials such as inert clay and (food grade) guar gum lubricants falsely labeled as “highly toxic” and polluting by him and his ignorant sources.
        Substantial analyses have proven that production of crop-based biofuels is a net energy loser, as are most added step processes, due to loss of efficiency, and there are many steps in biofuel production, each losing efficiency along the way. The energy requirements of producing the equipment (tractors, implements, trucks, etc.) fuel, fertilizers, pesticides (please do not suggest organic production because it is even more of an energy hog), all require energy inputs. The additional energy to make and distribute biofuels makes the bottom line substantially worse. Production of biofuels is not and will never be a net zero carbon endeavor.
        I have also worked in agriculture for more than 40 years and the push for “sustainable” anything in ag, is a con job meant to gain more tax payer subsidies and false virtue signaling to get special treatment from various government agencies. Permanent carbon sequestration in soil is a particularly popular con job to get more government subsidies a.k.a. tax payer money.
        Fueling commercial aviation with biofuels would require the diversion of a huge portion of oil crop production. You think food prices are high now? And don’t buy the future conversion to waste biomass rather than directly from food crops as is now the case. The big issue there is how do you accumulate the waste biomass without burning massive amounts of fuel and ware and tear on equipment and infrastructure all requiring outside energy inputs.
        Simple (but false) solutions to complex problems are the coin of the realm of ignorant environmentalists and “sustainable” fuel production is near the top.

        • Thankyou for providing facts, something supposed aviation people should strive for.

          History note: hydraulic fracturing was invented in Canada the 1940s, the recent key advance is horizontal drilling.

          I don’t know how that works in detail, in the 1970s drillers were trying to keep wells straight – I was on a 737 Combi flight into the High Arctic one day, a very heavy piece of SS pipe several fleet long was on board, containing instrumentation to help detect deviation from vertical.

          In 1965 there was heavy oilfield equipment on roads south of Grande Prairie AB, but I don’t remember if those were fracing pumps or seismic thumpers. (Instead of making explosions to generate shock waves, heavy trucks would thump the ground, that probably too fast powerful hydraulics.)

        • Thank you, Dale. Supposedly this goose chase is to reduce CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels, which thereby causes global warming. Hogwash. The atmosphere consists of 400 parts per million of of CO2. That’s 0.04 percent. It’s considered a trace gas. A far greater ‘greenhouse’ gas is water vapor. There are no, none, nada studies which conclusively show a positive correlation between an increase in CO2 concentration and increasing temperatures. That’s an inconvenient lie postulated by a politician who made a movie, and incidentally invented the internet. There is some data to suggest that an increase in CO2 concentration follows an increase in temperature. CO2 concentrations were much higher in millenia past. The earth and the human condition thrive with warmer temperatures and higher concentrations of CO2, which promotes plant and crop growth and the greening of the earth. As a corporate pilot based in the East, my flights would take me across the ridges of the Appalachians which were lined with wind turbines. I would look down, and my comment was always, “scars upon the land”. A lot of dead birds under those windmills. Enviro wacko are coming up with a lot of wacko ideas which will eventually ground us and leave us in the dark. Wind turbines and solar panels for electricity production; and batteries for cars and aircraft propulsion. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  2. Years ago, when we were flying a Caravan through BRAZIL—they were just starting up their biofuel program. The government would subsidize it for 10 years—then it would be in its own. The only other restriction—it had to be energy positive—couldn’t “use fuel to make fuel.”

    The US could and should have learned from Brazil—they chose sugar cane as their stock—easy to make alcohol from sugar—the stalks can be used to fire the boilers—and it doesn’t affect the food supply. It requires little cultivation, and can be grown in poor land.

    The US concentrated in corn instead. I’d like to see the actual cost of producing synfuels vs coal/oil when preparation, subsidies, mileage differences, and refining costs are factored in. I don’t believe than synfuels have a bet savings of energy.

    Let the best fuel win.

    • Jim, my understanding was that Brazil was an ecological disaster. Brazil had to create more farmland so they cut down forests to bare ground and then planted cane. The USA has the farmland, but wasting 20% of your food resources to make liquid fuel is both an energy loser and can also be considered to immoral considering famine exists.

      Since we have both oil and can liquify coal as a backup, cutting down trees and wasting nearly 1/4 of our food seems rather silly.

      • Agreed, thankyou.

        But we struggle to convince eco-catastrophists who lie about climate.
        Humans cannot cause runaway climate warming, which is not and cannot happen.

        Earth was warmer and climate stable in the Medieval Warm Period when Vikings farmed southwest Greenland.

        Cimate has been warming slowly since the end of a cool era that drove them out, shown by accurate thermometers like weather balloons and satellite sensors.

        The effect CO2 can have is small, limited by the ‘saturation’ effect of overlap of spectra of carbon dioxide and dihydrogen monoxide vapour, most of the increase has already been realized.

          • A problem with surface measurements is the Urban Heating Effect, which the popular databases do not properly correct for.

            One factor is using airports for temperature data, they are fields of hard surface, including black, and if erring need to be high as that is conservative for determining adequacy of aircraft performance given weight.

    • ‘Alcool’ was being made in 1983 in Brazil, where much corn is grown too, cars in showrooms there.

      Note that it takes 50% more ethanol by volume than gasoline to get the same energy.
      But hey! probably still more range than with heavy batteries.

      (Amusing perhaps, VW’s Bentley subsidiary is lobbying EU to increase weight limit for ordinary driver license, due weight of batteries in its bloated cars. Buyers in places like the Middle East probably demand range.)

  3. I agree on most counts Kent but for the most part for all practical purposes oil is not renewable, but that doesn’t matter in this context.

    It is plentiful and would be cheap if not for poor presidential decisions that artificially drive up the price, burdening everyone from ‘wealthy’ pilots to the working poor.

    As I have opined, we should put food in our bodies and fuel in our airplanes.

    Biofuels are only useful for eco-mentalists to sleep better at night knowing that their control is taking hold.

    With that said, unless (God willing) there is a major change in government (not just us but Europe and Canada, not likely) this problem will continue.

  4. It isn’t that the objective of weaning us off oil as our primary energy source is not both desirable & ultimately necessary. Where the problem lies is with the methodology chosen.

    Covering square miles of land with solar panels and windmills on an artificially generated panic timeline while simultaneously willfully ignoring their drawbacks is stupid. Compounding the stupidity was selection of batteries as the favored method of working around those drawbacks.

    The logical (i.e engineering rather than politics-driven) solution would have been to gradually phase in nuclear power as our primary generating backbone, working on refining the technology as we go.

    • There’s a significant amount of nuclear electricity generation in ON (BC and PQ have ample hydro), AB generates with coal and increasingly natural gas, SK is very interested in small nuclear reactors. Other provinces/territories I do not know (though YT has mountains and is not far from the Peace River hydro dams).

      Several US states have significant nuclear electricity generation, especially in the east, some in California the stupid state that is shutting them down, some in TX. Hydro in the northwest and Tennessee Valley.

      Beware of gumint schemes – people in WA got burned badly by state and local government issuing bonds to build nuclear power plants as forecast demand was quite high, and by local governments committing to buy the power for distribution. But demand reduced so only one plant was built IIRC. (Near the Hanford nuclear reservation IIRC, you can see the cooling tower of an unfinished plant on the way to Aberdeen from Olympia – it is used as a drying tower I gather, there was one visible from I-5 in the area of Longview but it may have been demolished.)

      Many proposed new designs now, I don’t know if many are in pilot operation.
      The US military plans a small plant at a base in AK, a civilian valley in the region is interested in the technology for itself.