Biden aviation fuel plan sinks hopes for ethanol

By Marc Heller | 05/07/2024 01:14 PM EDT

The Treasury Department’s guidance for an aviation fuel tax credit was a mixed bag for biofuels, with corn-based ethanol falling short of climate-smart goals.

An airplane releasing contrails.

An airplane releasing contrails. The Treasury Department released guidance on the sustainable aviation fuel tax credit. NASA/AP

Ethanol may be falling behind in the race to make jet fuel that contributes less to climate change.

That’s one conclusion from the Biden administration’s recent announcement about how fuels produced from agriculture will play into a new tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

While proponents of alternative energy sources such as used cooking oil and tallow scored big in the Treasury Department’s latest estimates of greenhouse gas reductions that will qualify for the tax credit, the corn ethanol industry had less to celebrate — and more battles to prepare for as the rules unfold for another, similar tax credit due to take effect next year.


The SAF announcement, along with EPA’s recent multi-pollutant emission regulation, dashed farmers’ hopes of playing a bigger role in climate-friendly fuels, said Harold Wolle, president of the National Corn Growers Association.