"We are thrilled to learn the FAA has selected Washington State University to lead the Center of Excellence, and we thank Senator Cantwell for her leadership in making this possible. With this investment, our region will continue to play a critical role in advancing the development of aviation biofuels," said Keith Loveless, Alaska Air Group's executive vice president and general counsel and executive sponsor of Alaska's sustainability program. "Using sustainable aviation fuels reflects our commitment to be the industry leader in environmental stewardship."
"Washington state is poised to lead the nation is tackling this critical scientific challenge," Cantwell continued. "Biofuel research brings together Washington state's leaders in aviation, innovation and agriculture. This Center will propel Washington state's innovation economy to the forefront of the emerging biofuels industry."
WSU President Elson S. Floyd said that "competing for and winning the Center of Excellence designation reaffirms the State of Washington and Washington State University as international leaders in aviation and the development of alternative jet fuels. We, along with our university and industry partners, stand ready to deliver the new science, advanced technology and educated workforce the industry will need to be globally competitive. I especially want to thank Sens. Cantwell and Murray, and our entire Congressional delegation for their support of our proposal for the center designation."
"The airlines are looking for ways to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint, and this center of excellence will play a big role in doing just that," said John Holladay, manager of the Biomass Sector at PNNL.
Washington state is home to leaders in the research, development and use of aviation biofuels. Notable successes include:
* In July 2010, Boeing, Alaska Airlines, the operators of the region's three largest airports - Port of Seattle, Port of Portland and Spokane International Airport, and Washington State University launched Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest. The coalition is the nation's first regional stakeholder effort to explore the opportunities of aviation biofuels.
* In September 2011, a research team led by WSU received a $40 millionUSDA grant to convert closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers. The UW also received a $40 millionUSDA grant to research the use of sustainably grown woody energy crops to produce bio-gasoline and renewable aviation fuel.
* In November 2011, Alaska Air conducted 75 commercial flights over a two-week period in which each plane used a 20 percent mixture of aviation biofuel.
Cantwell, along with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced legislation in May 2011 to extend the length of contracts between the Department of Defense and biofuel producers from the current limit of 5 years to 15 years.
Allowing for longer-term contracts with the largest single consumer of energy in the country would help companies in Washington state to obtain the financing they need to grow their operations.
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