Schneider Introduces Bill to Decarbonize Aviation, Fulfill Climate Commitments
WASHINGTON--Today, Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) introduced the Sustainable Skies Act, new legislation to fight carbon emissions and promote the transition to sustainable aviation fuel. The bill, co-led by Reps. Dan Kildee (MI-05) and Julia Brownley (CA-26), is supported at introduction by climate groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund, and by industry groups, like United Airlines, Airlines for America, LanzaJet, and the Airline Pilots Association. The bill is also supported by Third Way, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the Progressive Policy Institute. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is expected to introduce a Senate companion bill in the coming days.
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 methodology the bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency to determine is as stringent as ICAO’s. 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. The bill also would require eligible SAFs to utilize the full suite of ICAO sustainability criteria, including accounting for both aggregate attributional core lifecycle emissions and the induced land use change.
“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, and I’m proud to take this legislation to the House with the support of both Illinois-based companies, like United and LanzaJet, and climate change champions, like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Fund,” said Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10).
“Climate change is a real and present danger to our country, and we must do all we can do to address it. In my home state of Michigan, we have already seen the negative effects the climate crisis is having on the Great Lakes. That’s why I am proud to support the Sustainable Skies Act. This legislation promotes more sustainable and responsible fuels for airplanes so they can reduce their emissions. I thank Representatives Schneider, Brownley, unions, the airline industry and environmental community for coming together to work on this bill,” said Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05).
“Sustainable aviation fuel is the aviation industry’s best opportunity to cut its carbon emissions for the foreseeable future,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26) “I am pleased to join Rep. Schneider and Rep. Kildee in introducing the Sustainable Skies Act, because federal investment in this nascent industry is critically important if the aviation sector is going to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The broad coalition of environmentalists, airlines, sustainable fuel producers, and labor in support of this bill demonstrates how SAF can be both a win for the environment and a win for our economy.”
“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 Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
“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 proposed 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.
“The Sustainable Skies Act is a critical step on our path to decarbonize United and the broader aviation industry. For more than a decade, United has been a leader in developing sustainable air travel, purchasing more SAF than any other airline, and we are proud to champion this milestone legislation,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines. “This is one of the many initiatives moving us closer to zeroing out the emissions generated from flying and I applaud Reps. Schneider, Kildee, and Brownley for their bold leadership on this critical issue.”
“In addition to improving aircraft efficiency and reducing excess flying, scaling use of sustainable aviation fuel is critical for the aviation sector to reduce its fair share of carbon emissions for a safe climate future. Congress can jumpstart new production of these critical fuels by passing the Sustainable Skies Act." – John Holler, Senior Program Officer, Climate Cooperation & Sustainable Fuels at World Wildlife Fund
“This measure will go a long way toward improving the cost-competitiveness of sustainable aviation fuel, which is crucial to expanding its production and deployment as U.S. airlines work to eliminate their net carbon emissions by 2050,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “The U.S. airline industry has set a goal of making 2 billion gallons of environmentally friendly SAF available for U.S. carriers to use in 2030, and supportive measures like this will enable us to achieve that goal.”
"From our flight deck window, airline pilots have a rare perspective on the earth. We see the droughts, forest fires, and storms that are linked to climate change, but our view is also shaped by practices and policies that already allow us to contribute to a cleaner environment. Airline pilots are eager to do even more to protect our planet, and that's why ALPA supports The Sustainable Skies Act,” said Cpt. Bob Fox, First Vice President of the Air Lines Pilot Association. “We applaud Reps. Schneider, Kildee and Brownley, and urge Congress to immediately pass this important legislation."
"We’re on the precipice of catalyzing the development of a robust domestic Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) industry that will position the US as a leader in renewables and allow our global society to make significant progress towards decarbonization. With a long-term, performance-based Blender's Tax Credit for SAF, we will be able to invest in and produce SAF at scale across the U.S.,” said Jimmy Samartzis, CEO of LanzaJet. “The tax credit will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, improve local air quality and enable a path to net-zero emissions for the aviation industry. We applaud Rep. Schneider, Rep. Kildee, and Rep. Brownley for their leadership in enabling a cleaner and more sustainable future for our country and for aviation."
"Flight Attendants know firsthand the threat climate change poses to our safety and our jobs—increased turbulence, extreme weather events, and more. We urge Congress to act urgently to support the production and use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and reduce the aviation industry's reliance on petroleum-based jet fuel, ensuring real reductions in aviation emissions. The time for investment is now. We applaud Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10), Reps. Dan Kildee (MI-05) and Julia Brownley (CA-26), for introducing the Sustainable Skies Act,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants at 17 airlines.
“Our best bet for tackling the growing climate impacts of air travel is with sustainable aviation fuel. With travel expected to rebound post-pandemic, now is the time to ensure the industry comes back stronger and cleaner than it was before,” said Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program at Third Way. “The Sustainable Skies Act will help reduce the price of the very cleanest fuels—such as those produced from sustainable biomass, waste streams, and direct air capture—so we can scale up domestic production quickly and put American farmers and manufacturers to work creating a modern, carbon-free future for aviation.”
“Passing the Sustainable Skies Act is the single most important near-term action Congress can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, which represents 3% of all U.S. emissions,” said Paul Bledsoe, energy fellow and strategic advisor at the Progressive Policy Institute. “Right now, sustainable aviation fuels are not widely available, so durable tax incentives are needed to jumpstart much higher production and use, and to reduce long-term costs so the credit can be phased out after a decade. These fuels derived from sustainable feedstocks can reduce emissions by as much as 80% over conventional jet fuels with no loss in performance. This crucial legislation should be included in infrastructure bills Congressional tax committees are writing, and passed into law at the earliest opportunity.”
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from aircraft is one of the biggest challenges facing the aviation industry and is a priority for Neste, one of the world’s most sustainable companies,” said Jeremy Baines, President of Neste US. “Neste commends Reps. Schneider (D-IL), Kildee (D-MI) and Brownley (D-CA) for showing leadership through the introduction of their sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blenders tax credit legislation, a practical solution that can be immediately deployed, accelerate the production and use of SAF, and help ensure that Americans can keep flying both affordably and with a much smaller carbon footprint.”
"The general aviation industry recognizes Reps. Schneider, Kildee and Brownley for their significant leadership in advancing the production and development of sustainable aviation fuel," said Pete Bunce, James Viola, Tim Obitts and Ed Bolen, leaders of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association and National Business Aviation Association. "SAF is critical to the future of general aviation, which supports 1.2 million American jobs and $247 billion in economic output."
“Decarbonizing aviation is one of the most pressing challenges to solving the climate crisis. However, thanks to innovative biotechnology and biofuel producers, realizing green aviation is possible. This bill to incentivize the production and use of sustainable aviation fuels is critical if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. transportation sector and truly address climate change. It will bolster rural economies across the country by creating new revenue streams for agricultural producers and value-added markets for waste products. BIO thanks U.S. Representatives Schneider, Kildee, and Brownley for the introduction of the Sustainable Skies Act and we look forward to working with lawmakers as it moves through Congress,” said Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)
“RMI supports the Sustainable Skies Act with performance-based incentives for lower carbon aviation. The legislation will also help to level the playing field with renewable road fuels,” said John Coequyt, Director U.S. Government Affairs, Rocky Mountain Institute.