Midlands Voices: Remove this roadblock to expand the use of Iowa-grown renewable fuel

Source: By Joni Ernst, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Sustainable Skies Act is intended to increase the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blends, which includes Iowa-grown renewable fuel. A tax credit would be available for renewable jet fuels that cut carbon emissions by more than half compared to petroleum. That much makes sense, since low-carbon SAF fuels can be used only in blends with petroleum up to 50% — and some of the ones in development are limited to 10%.

But one of the bill’s glaring flaws is in how it would measure those carbon reductions. Right now, it follows a carbon emissions model crafted by an agency of the United Nations. This model adds penalties to the carbon scores of renewable fuels made from U.S- grown crops like corn and soybeans. Worse, this same U.N.-supported model assigns advantages to fuels made from feedstock that aren’t even commercially available today. This system of penalties and advantages is based on assumptions about international agricultural markets that make little sense.

The use of this model would disqualify many of today’s SAFs from eligibility for the tax credit and delay the effectiveness of the tax credit until eligible feedstocks could be commercialized.

It baffles the mind that the Biden administration says that aviation is the future for biofuels in one breath and in another is attempting to eliminate U.S. biofuels from any future in aviation. If decarbonizing the aviation industry is an urgent priority, then why hamstring the effort by penalizing American agriculture?

The reality is if Democrats in Congress don’t work with us to make changes, this bill could prevent farmers and biofuel producers from playing any role in a sustainable aviation future and it could cut short the necessary runway for SAF to take off.

Joni Ernst is the junior U.S. senator from Iowa.