United Airlines investing $30 million in biofuels producer

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United Airlines is investing $30 million in a company that makes biofuels for airplanes.

United said Tuesday that the investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. could provide it with up to 180 million gallons of fuel per year.

Related: Delta expects an additional $2 billion in fuel savings this year

That’s just a drop in United’s fuel consumption — the Chicago airline burned 3.9 billion gallons last year — and the investment is a tiny fraction of United’s $1.1 billion profit last year.

Still, United Continental Holdings Inc. says it’s the biggest single investment in biofuels by a U.S. airline.

Pressure is building on airlines to reduce carbon emissions from burning oil-based jet fuel. The Obama administration has taken early steps toward limiting emissions, following the lead of an international aviation authority.

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