NATA, other industry groups urge Biden to address SAF roadblocks

By National Air Transportation Association | June 02, 2022

The National Air Transportation Association joined forces with a host of other aviation stakeholders urging the Biden Administration to address significant regulatory roadblocks that currently hinder wide-scale commercialization of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

In a May 12 letter to National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, 42 organizations representing nearly every sector of the industry—including SAF producers, fuel distributers, aircraft manufacturers, airports, fixed base operators, air carriers, and leading aviation and biotechnology associations—asked for additional participation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Biden Administration’s SAF Grand Challenge. Announced by the White House last September, the SAF Grand Challenge aims for 3 billion gallons of domestically produced SAF by the year 2030, up from current U.S. annual production of approximately 4.5 million gallons.

“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. 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,” stated Karen Huggard, NATA’s managing director of legislative affairs and industry relations.

The letter highlighted five simple fixes to an annual rule currently under review by the EPA. “Under the Grand Challenge, the EPA has pledged to take ‘steps designed to expedite the regulatory approval process to support newly developed fuels and feedstocks that may be viable for inclusion as able to generate Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under renewable fuel in the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program,’” the letter notes.

“As a first step in this process, it is imperative that the EPA finalize the ‘biointermediate’ provisions contained in the RFS annual rule with simple fixes that would dramatically improve the opportunity to achieve the Administration’s 2030 Grand Challenge goal of 3 billion gallons of SAF.”

The letter called for five modifications to the biointermediate proposal that enjoy broad industry support and would positively impact the scale-up of SAF:

    •allow SAF feedstock to be processed at more than two facilities,

    •allow biointermediate feedstock to be sold to more than one refinery,

    •update the definition of biocrude,

    •allow for commingling of biointermediates, and 

    •authorize the use of pipeline biogas for SAF. 

“Creating a commercial supply of SAF is of critical importance to both the aviation sector and our nation’s environment. We believe the SAF Grand Challenge can be the foundation for a viable and productive domestic SAF industry, creating tens of thousands of jobs and enabling the United States to retain its position as the world leader in this emerging market. However, it is imperative that the Biden Administration act now to solidify a complementary regulatory framework to foster cleaner, more sustainable, and more secure domestic energy sources for aviation,” the letter stated.