NEXTRenewables spokesperson Michael Hinrichs said in an email that the decisions will not delay the project. But they could complicate its plans to develop rail access. The company already has permits to build the refinery minus the railyard and an air quality permit from DEQ. NEXT is seeking alternatives for rail access to the facility.

Hinrichs said the company was excited to receive United’s support.

“They see the strategic advantages of our Port Westward clean fuels production facility and how it can help transition the aviation industry toward cleaner fuels and cleaner skies,” Hinrichs said.

Biofuels like renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel are defined by federal agencies as chemically identical to their fossil fuel counterparts but are made from different materials like corn or cooking oil. That means they’re suitable for existing machines but can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

United Airlines said in its announcement that it “could invest as much as $37.5 MM into NEXT, as long as the company meets certain milestone targets.” The Chicago-based airline did not specify what those targets would be."