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California Approves Low Carbon Fuels Standard
SACRAMENTO - Today, the Air Resources Board adopted a regulation that will implement Governor Schwarzenegger's Low Carbon Fuel Standard calling for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from California's transportation fuels by ten percent by 2020.
The new regulation is aimed at diversifying the variety of fuels used for transportation. It will boost the market for alternative-fuel vehicles and achieve 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2020. ARB representatives describe the measure as the most important early-action called for under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act (Nunez, 2006).
"The new standard means we can begin to break our century-old dependence on petroleum and provide California with greater energy security," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "The drive to force the market toward greater use of alternative fuels will be a boon to the state's economy and public health - it reduces air pollution, creates new jobs and continues California's leadership in the fight against global warming."
According to ARB analyses, to produce the more than 1.5 billion gallons of biofuels needed, over 25 new biofuel facilities will have to be built and will create more than 3,000 new jobs, mostly in the state's rural areas. Production of fuels within the state will also keep consumer dollars local by reducing the need to make fuel purchases from beyond its borders.
The regulation requires providers, refiners, importers and blenders to ensure that the fuels they provide for the California market meet an average declining standard of 'carbon intensity'. This is established by determining the sum of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation and consumption of a fuel, also referred to as the fuel pathway.
Economic mechanisms will allow the market to choose the most cost-effective clean fuels (those with the lowest carbon intensity) giving California consumers the widest variety of fuel options.
Seeking to enhance private sector and federal investment into alternative fuel production and distribution, California is also providing funding to assist in the early development and deployment of the most promising low-carbon fuels. The Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, AB 118 (Nunez, 2007), managed by the California Energy Commission, will provide approximately $120 million dollars per year over seven years to deploy the cleanest fuels and vehicles.
Regulators expect the new generation of fuels to come from the development of technology that uses algae, wood, agricultural waste such as straw, common invasive weeds such as switchgrass, and even from municipal solid waste.
The standard is also expected to drive the availability of plug-in hybrid, battery electric and fuel-cell powered cars while promoting investment in electric charging stations and hydrogen fueling stations.
Governor Schwarzenegger issued the executive order requiring a low carbon fuel standard in early 2007. It directed the state to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector which accounts for 40 percent of the state's total greenhouse gas emissions. The regulation is designed to increase the use of alternative fuels, replacing 20 percent of the fuel used by cars in California with clean alternative fuels by 2020, including electricity, biofuels, hydrogen and other options.
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.