The California legislature has passed AB 1322 (R. Rivas); the bill requires the California Air Resources Board to develop an incentives-based plan to promote the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other alternatives to jet fuel to reduce the impact of commercial aviation on climate change. Specifically, this bill will require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a plan to expand SAF production capacity by identifying tools for increasing SAF infrastructure and usage while exploring electric and hydrogen technologies.
The bill sets a sustainable fuels usage target in the aviation sector of at least 20% by 2030. This bill will also require, contingent on an appropriation, CARB to begin implementing the plan by July 2024.
In creating the plan, CARB will quantify greenhouse gas emission reductions associated with SAF, identify barriers to achieving the SAF production target, set milestones for achieving the target, ensure that SAF incentives are at least comparable to other renewable fuel incentives, and identify tools for increasing SAF supply and demand, including buildout of relevant infrastructure.
Both the International Air Transport Association and Airlines for America, the two leading industry trade groups, have determined that the most effective path to reaching industry-wide emissions reductions goals will be through the use of SAF. SAF can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%, as well as sulfur oxides by nearly 100%, and particulate matter by about 50%.
Despite the benefits of SAF, it is severely underutilized for several reasons. In addition to electrification, ground fuel producers have stronger incentives to produce renewable diesel due to its similar environmental benefits to SAF. While some incentives to produce SAF exist, they remain insufficient to promote greater production and are insufficient compared to incentives to reduce the carbon intensity of on-road fuel.
As a result, production of on-road fuels has grown while SAF production has lagged behind. Removing these barriers is critical to producing sufficient SAF to meet the aviation sector’s ambitious climate goals, the bill’s supporters say.