Vilsack expects the sustainable aviation fuel announcement to come in a matter of weeks.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

March 1, 2024

2 Min Read
Vilsack speaking at Commodity Classic
Holly Spangler

Crop producers at the Commodity Classic convention in Houston had hoped Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s Friday keynote address would include news of new tax incentives for sustainable aviation fuel production. Instead, Biden administration officials announced earlier in the day they would have to wait a little bit longer. The Secretary invoked a common cliche to explain the delay.

“The reason we’re not (announcing) today is because we’re measuring twice and cutting once,” Vilsack said. “We want to make sure that the latest and best information is utilized in the modeling that will inform the Treasury.”

A federal interagency group with members of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation had previously committed to a March 1 deadline for revision to the so-called GREET model. The model determines how “sustainable” various fuel sources are based on multiple factors, including emissions as well as other environmental impacts through the fuel’s life cycles.  

Biofuel advocates have long argued that current federal guidelines put them at a disadvantage compared to electric vehicles. When other factors are taken into consideration, they believe plant-based fuels are more environmentally friendly than current modeling reflects.

At issue are potential tax credits that many hope will spur innovation within the sustainable aviation fuel market. According to Vilsack, part of the reason for the delay was to ensure that the GREET model was adopted, something he is now confident will happen.

The other thing he hopes to ensure is that the feedstock used to produce biofuels qualifies for the tax credits, particularly the feedstocks that are generated from climate-smart practices. Vilsack says he expects the announcement delay to only be a matter of weeks.

“We have to make sure that the guidance is correct, that it acknowledges the work that’s being done in reducing greenhouse gas emissions relative to the transportation fuels and the good work that’s being done out in the field to embrace climate-smart practices,” he says.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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