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A regional collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Mountain West airport sells a biofuel made with animal fat

Signature Flight bio-fuel C
Signature Flight Support
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A Signature Flight Support sustainable aviation fuel truck at the Eagle County Regional Airport near Vail, Colo.

News brief

Airplanes flying in or out of a Mountain West airport now can gas up with a blend of jet fuel and livestock fat.

This spring, the Eagle County Regional Airport near Vail, Colorado, began offering the fatty jet fuel sourced from unwanted livestock tallow, as reported by the Colorado Sun. It's a so-called sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, with a lower carbon footprint.

Brian Batty works for Signature Flight Support, an aviation operations company that recently acquired the Vail Valley Jet Center. He says its SAF fuel reduces lifetime carbon dioxide emissions by 25% compared to fossil jet fuel.

“Which is a great impact to the environment — to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions,” Batty said in an interview with the Mountain West News Bureau. “We’re working towards getting the entire aviation industry to lower their carbon footprint.”

Batty says the industry can make changes in aircraft design, use fewer engines while taxiing or chart more efficient flight routes, but those things matter little compared to jet fuel emissions.

“In the long run, SAF is going to have to bear the biggest burden to reduce the carbon that’s actually put out as the aircrafts move,” Batty said. “It’s the biggest impact we can make and that’s why this journey’s so important.”

Aviation accounts for more than 2% of global CO2 emissions, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Signature's SAF blend is about 30% derived from tallow and 70% traditional jet fuel. According to Signature Marketing Analyst Matt Franklin, traditional Jet A fuel at the Colorado airport is at $9.84 per gallon, as of Friday, while SAF fuel is at $10.64 per gallon. He emphasized that, like many things right now, fuel aviation prices are inflated.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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