Vilsack says agriculture is in the game when it comes to sustainable aviation fuel

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture says updates to a model that measures the carbon footprint for sustainable aviation fuel should allow U.S. agriculture to participate in the sustainable aviation fuel market.

Secretary Tom Vilsack says the updated Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies or GREET model might not be enough by itself to allow renewable fuel producers to qualify for a new tax credit, but using climate-smart ag practices could help.  He says, “Agriculture’s foot is in the door; we’re in the game.”

“If you’re producing ethanol, you can use the GREET model, and maybe you use renewable energy, and you use climate-smart agriculture, and you do something else,” he says. “Maybe you ultimately get to less than less than 50 for your CI score, and that qualifies for the tax credit.”

Section 40B of the Inflation Reduction Act provides two years of a sustainable aviation fuel tax credit. For 2023 and 2024, SAF will qualify for a standalone blenders credit if the fuel reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases by at least 50%.

Vilsack also says an interagency working group will continue working on another tax credit included in the Inflation Reduction Act called 45z, which supports the production of low-carbon biofuels. He says there are a few questions that need to be answered in the next few months.  “What other commodities besides corn and soybeans ought to qualify,” he says.  “And what other practices beyond no-till, cover crop, and energy-efficient fertilizer should qualify.”

The other tax credit is expected to go into effect in January 2025.

Vilsack spoke with reporters during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Washington Watch on Tuesday.

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