California plans first-of-its-kind financial penalty on aviation fuel

By Anne C. Mulkern | 06/24/2024 06:21 AM EDT

Companies that supply aviation fuel would have to offset the carbon emissions by funding cleaner transportation fuel projects.

United Airlines airplane takes off at San Francisco International Airport.

A United Airlines airplane takes off at San Francisco International Airport. California plans to penalize all intrastate flights in a move to develop cleaner jet fuel. Jeff Chiu/AP

Every day, nearly 600 airline flights carry passengers between airports within California. It’s the nation’s largest intrastate aviation network — and now, it’s the target of a first-in-the-nation proposal to penalize the use of standard jet fuel.

California regulators are proposing to force jet fuel suppliers to invest in cleaner options through a policy aimed at expanding the supply of lower-emitting aviation fuels. The airline industry opposes the move.

A new mandate would require jet fuel suppliers to compensate financially for their greenhouse gas pollution by paying for emissions-reducing projects such as the production of cleaner jet fuel. Suppliers would have to compensate only for intrastate flights in California.


“We want to see airlines using alternatives to conventional jet fuel in the state,” said Lys Mendez, a spokesperson for the California Air Resources Board, which is scheduled to consider a vote on the policy in November. Alternatives include fuels derived from waste fats and oils or other plant-based products.