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Rep. Brad Schneider Leading on Sustainable Aviation, Infrastructure

Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) is currently serving his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Prior to being elected to Congress, Schneider spent more than 20 years in business and management consulting, and he is a vigorous proponent for infrastructure investment, STEM education and environmental sustainability.

On Twitter @RepSchneider

Q: In 2021 you introduced the Sustainable Skies Act, a bill to promote the transition to sustainable aviation fuel. What are the key provisions of this legislation, and why is it important?

Aviation is one of the most difficult economic sectors to decarbonize, and the Sustainable Skies Act aims to cut aviation emissions in half through accelerating the transition to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The legislation would create a 10-year performance-based tax credit for blenders that supply SAF with a demonstrated 50% or greater lifecycle estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard jet fuel.

The credit would begin at $1.50 per gallon, with an additional one-cent-per-gallon credit for each percent of demonstrable emissions reduction above 50% – for example, an SAF that reduces carbon emissions by 70% would receive a credit of $1.70 per gallon. The House Ways & Means Committee included a version of this proposal – with a credit starting at $1.25 per gallon – in the legislation we marked up in September as part of the Build Back Better Act. I continue to work with my colleagues to get this legislation across the finish line.

“Tax credits helped incentivize production of other alternative fuels, and the Sustainable Skies Act will be a game-changer for SAF.”

Industry stakeholders have repeatedly told me that cost and lack of supply remain key limiting factors to expanding SAF production and use. As we’ve seen before, similar tax credits helped incentivize production of other alternative fuels, and the Sustainable Skies Act will be a game-changer for SAF. I believe this is a realistic and responsible means to greatly expand the use of SAF as we work towards decarbonizing aviation.

Q: As a proponent of economic development, you must be pleased that a study found that Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), which is located in your district, generates 1,900 jobs and $393 million in annual economic activity.

Very much so. The study was concrete evidence of PWK’s importance to our region. The same study determined that the airport, one of the busiest ‘reliever’ airports in the country, supported 80,000 general aviation flights per year, including business aircraft, charters, emergency relief and humanitarian flights, which in turn fueled revenue for local businesses and our local governments and school districts.

On a personal note, a few years ago we hosted at PWK the inaugural event for the Tenth District STEM Scholars program, which aims to connect students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with hands-on learning experiences.

Twenty-three local high school students joined me on a Saturday afternoon at PWK to learn more about airport logistics, air traffic control and the STEM skills needed for a career in aviation. My own passion for science was sparked at an early age through similar extracurricular programs, and visiting a busy airport offered many fantastic examples of the importance of such skills to these students.

Q: You have supported increased funding to help rebuild America’s infrastructure, including storm water and surface transportation projects in your district. What aviation infrastructure projects do you support?

Our national transportation infrastructure is unquestionably in need of improvement and expansion, and this includes our country’s network of airports – from large facilities like Chicago O’Hare to relievers like Chicago Executive, and thousands of other airports that serve as vital transportation hubs for communities of all sizes.

Indeed, there isn’t a single infrastructure area that functions independently of others; all are interconnected, and all must be supported and enhanced to meet our country’s current and future needs. That said, we must also consider the near-term and future sustainability impacts from all such projects.

Together with Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA-8), I introduced the Greener Transportation for Communities Act to permit electric charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure to qualify for tax exemptions, which in turn would enable state and local governments to use tax-exempt bonds to finance certain private projects.

In addition, the legislation would allow this infrastructure to qualify as tax exempt if installed as part of larger infrastructure projects, including airports, built with private activity bonds. It is important that we provide financial tools to help state and local governments transition to the green economy.

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