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Alaska Airlines taking a lead in using sustainable aviation fuel

KING 5 sat down for an exclusive interview with Senator Maria Cantwell and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to talk about sustainable aviation fuel.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The Inflation Reduction Act recently passed the Senate and the House could vote on the issue this week. 

Part of that act will include hundreds of millions of dollars to fund sustainable aviation fuel and practices. It’s one of the many pieces of legislation Washington Senator Maria Cantwell is working on to increase sustainability.

The biggest takeaway is the Pacific Northwest is a pioneer in sustainability. Alaska Airlines is taking the lead when it comes to sustainable aviation fuel; they use about 3%. 

Alaska Airlines said the inventory of sustainable aviation fuel is low. It's a problem Senator Cantwell and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said they're trying to change.

“We don’t know what’s going to be the best yet and we really need to prioritize volume,” said Granholm. 

The Biden Administration is hoping to create 3 billion gallons of sustainable fuel by 2030. 

“We know that it’s just a slice of the 35 billion that we need and we only have 5 billion today,” said Granholm.

The big picture is getting enough fuel in these planes.

“We feel like we now need to figure out how to get these scientific answers and scale the amount of feedstock that could be available,” said Cantwell.

Cantwell was front and center in the latest sustainability bills. President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law yesterday which will support the research on feedstock which is used to produce sustainable fuel. Feedstock can be anything from algae to solid waste and at this point, there is no clear leader to provide all that fuel.

“Right now these guys are paying an OPEC price, they’re also paying a west coast price and it’s affecting the consumer and the price they pay on a ticket and we’d like to drive fuel prices down,” said Cantwell.

The Biden administration has set a goal of net zero emissions by 2050 which includes aviation. Some of the new legislation currently in the house provides incentives to reduce sustainable fuel prices. 

“We have a lot of small research going, we need to take it to scale to really get the cost reductions for the consumers,” said Granholm.

With the passage of these laws, money will be invested in labs here in Washington doing that research.

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