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What Are the Main Characteristics of Alternative Jet Fuels? 21 Sulfur oxides in jet fuel are precursors and indicators of particle and PM2.5 formation. PM2.5 is known to cause serious health problems and is regulated with separate standards by the EPA. Furthermore, as a criteria pollutant, high levels of PM2.5 can lead to areas being designated as non-attainment zones (see Section 2.6.1), with potential negative consequences to growth and operations at airports in such areas. Ultra-fine particles (UFP) are another pollutant of concern. While there are currently no standards regulating UFP, it is possible that they will be subject to regulation in the future. Alternative jet fuels may also potentially provide benefits with respect to UFP emissions. Alternative jet fuels are essentially sulfur-free, and tests by the U.S. Air Force indicate that their PM2.5 contribution is significantly lower than that of conventional jet fuel. 2.5 Economic Benefits of Alternative Jet Fuels Since there is an adequate amount of research and field experience to demonstrate the actual economic benefits of alternative jet fuels produced from agricultural feedstocks, the discussion that follows focuses on facilities that use those feedstocks. Nevertheless, the essential analytical principles can apply to studies for nonagricultural feedstocks such as coal and natural gas. What are the economic benefits of alternative jet fuels? Alternative jet fuel projects have the potential to bring significant benefits in terms of job cre- ation and economic activity to the places where the processing facilities are located. Processing a commodity contributes to the local or regional economy to the extent that local inputs are used. Examples include payments for these inputs, such as wages and salaries; payments for locally purchased supplies, materials, and utilities; and possibly payments to local financial institutions. These initial local expenditures are direct impacts that set in motion rounds of spending and re-spending that result in secondary impacts. What are the main factors affecting the analysis of regional economic impacts of alternative jet fuel projects? Recent analyses of renewable fuels plants suggest that there may be a number of factors affecting the regional economic impact of these facilities. These fall into five categories: 1. Choice of feedstock: When analyzing the economic impact of an agricultural processing project, the usual assumption is that the processed commodity is already being produced and, in the absence of the project, is sold to an alternative market. Thus, the direct impacts of the processing operation include payments for locally produced inputs such as labor and utilities but do not include commodity purchases (e.g., plant oil or corn). However, if the feedstock has little or no alternative market (e.g., agricultural residues), sale of these feed- stocks to an energy plant represents a new revenue source for farmers and adds to the regional economic impact. 2. Differences in unit of analysis (county versus state): Another factor affecting impact analy- sis studies is differences in the definition of the study area. Some studies estimate impacts for a single county, others for multiple counties, and others for an entire state. None of these approaches is more or less appropriate than another, and the definition of the study area often depends on who constitutes the primary audience--local leaders or state decision makers. However, other things equal, the impacts measured at the state level will always be greater than those for a single county or a multi-county area within the state. 3. Nature of ownership (local versus corporate): Another factor that can give rise to substantial differences in impact estimates is the degree of local ownership. If a plant is largely or wholly owned by farmers or other local investors, the profits are distributed to these local owners and