House infrastructure package pushes aviation sustainability
House Democratic leaders last week called for encouraging the development of sustainable aviation fuels and aircraft technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as outlined in their proposed $760 billion, five-year infrastructure package.
The bill calls for investments in alternative fuel infrastructure and stimulating the development of alternative fuels and carbon reduction projects. The package would also earmark $625 million for the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program, which advances state-led energy initiatives, and $300 million for the Clean Cities Coalition Network Program, which has placed more than a million alternative fuel vehicles on the road since 1993.
The current proposal is intended to be a framework, with the Democratic leadership open to new ideas regarding incentives for new programs. Increasing funding for existing programs, such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, and building on the success of programs like the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) program, which helps airports and airlines reduce carbon pollution through investments in low-emission vehicles and infrastructure, are being discussed. Creating new funding for alternative fuel investments is also on the table.
House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio represents Oregon, which has some of the country’s most aggressive carbon reduction legislation; he advocated for the ambitious bill, stating that the country could not continue the seven-decade tradition of viewing infrastructure mainly as the construction of highways, paid for with an eroding tax on gasoline.
With the aviation industry still pushing for an ambitious 50% slash of its 2005 emission levels by 2050, pressure from the public sector to transition to renewable fuels for aviation would aid that pursuit. Airlines and others in the industry may, however, find themselves in opposition to the proposal’s sponsorship of certain modes of transport, such as rail, as greener options than air travel
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