Low Carbon Fuel Standard

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Bioenergy > Standards > Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)


The "Low Carbon Fuel Standard" (LCFS) is a standard to regulate the carbon emissions associated with the manufacture and usage of fuels.

  • The state of California in the United States has established a Low Carbon Fuel Standard that mandates reduced carbon dioxide emissions for fuels under California State Executive Order S-01-07. This Executive Order, signed into law on 23 January 2007 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, "requires fuel providers to ensure that the mix of fuel they sell into the California market meets, on average, a declining standard for GHG emissions measured in CO2-equivalent" gram per unit of fuel energy sold.[1]
  • For information on the California Air Resources Board, see "Indirect land use impacts of biofuels".

Contents

Overview information

Issues

Publications

News

2011

  • Judge blocks California's low-carbon fuel rules, 30 December 2011 by the Los Angeles Times: "A federal judge on Thursday temporarily halted California's ability to enforce rules to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels, effectively taking the regulatory teeth out of the state's year-old program."
    • "U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill issued a preliminary injunction that ruled the California Air Resources Board's low-carbon fuel regulations violated the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause by discriminating against crude oil and biofuels producers located outside California."
    • "The regulations require producers, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the carbon footprint of their fuel by 10% over the next decade, as part of California's landmark global-warming law aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020."
    • "The regulation calculates the life cycle of fuels from their extraction — or cultivation, in the case of biofuels such as corn-based ethanol — to their combustion. For example, the state considers how corn is grown, harvested and converted to ethanol intended for California gas tanks, a life-cycle evaluation called 'seeds to wheels.'..."[2]
  • Corn ethanol policy under attack in California, 26 April 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Opponents of corn ethanol in California achieved a small victory on April 25 after the state assembly natural resources committee approved a bill that would make corn ethanol ineligible for state funding and would repeal the California Ethanol Producer Incentive Program."
    • "Supporters of the measure claim that ethanol production is to blame for higher corn prices, which in turn directly affects Californians through higher food prices. The state’s poultry, dairy and cattle producers are at the top of the list of the bill’s supporters. Many attended the committee hearing and told legislators that high corn prices are 'killing' their businesses and eliminating support for corn ethanol will help to reduce corn prices."
    • "Three California ethanol producers are currently able to receive assistance through CEPIP—Calgren Renewable Fuels LLC, Pacific Ethanol Inc. and AE Biofuels Inc. Representatives from all three companies were on hand at the hearing to offer their input. Each producer stressed that while they are currently using corn to produce their ethanol, CEPIP requires them to invest in technology to transition to other feedstocks and the state’s low carbon fuel standard further spurs them to produce low-carbon fuels. Corn ethanol is the best option currently available, they said, and provides a bridge toward cellulosic ethanol and other lower-carbon fuels. But if incentives currently in place to support the existing industry are taken away, California’s ethanol plants will undoubtedly close and the state will lose its forward momentum in commercializing those other fuels."[3]
  • RFA Supports ARB Adoption of New Purdue ILUC Work, But Cautions that More Improvements are Needed, 17 February 2011 by Renewable Fuels Association: "In comments submitted Wednesday to the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) continued to raise concerns regarding the indirect land use change (ILUC) analysis used for the state’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS)."
    • "The results of Purdue’s recent analysis reduce the ILUC penalty for corn ethanol from ARB’s current value of 30 grams/megajoule (g/MJ) to approximately 14 g/MJ."
    • "In general, the RFA agreed with many of the recommendations provided by the appointed experts on the workgroup to improve ARB’s ILUC analysis."[4]

2010

  • Lawsuit: LCFS violates US Constitution, 4 January 2010 by Todd J. Guerrero in Ethanol Producer Magazine: "In a case that will be closely watched throughout the country, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association recently filed suit in federal district court alleging that California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) violates the federal Constitution."
    • "Adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 2009, the LCFS is intended to reduce California greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuels used in California by an average of 10 percent by the year 2020. Carbon intensity is a measure of the direct and indirect GHG emissions associated with each step of a fuel’s full life cycle – the 'well-to-wheels' for fossil fuels and 'seed-to-wheels' for biofuels."
    • "For corn ethanol, indirect land use changes are a significant source of additional GHG emissions....Given the LCFS’ requirement of reduced carbon intensity, it’s not difficult to see that corn ethanol will be severely disadvantaged in California."
    • "In its lawsuit, the trade groups assert that the LCFS stands as an obstacle to Congress’ intent in adopting the Environmental Security and Independence Act of 2007," which "exempted existing corn ethanol producers from claiming or demonstrating GHG reductions." The lawsuit also alleges that the LCFS violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which concerns interstate commerce, in particular because it requires calculating land use changes that occur mainly outside the state.[5]

2009

  • Ethanol proposal may derail climate bill, 26 May 2009 by Politico: "Rural Democrats are threatening to vote against climate change legislation unless the Environmental Protection Agency halts new proposals that could hamper the development of corn ethanol."
    • The "Renewable Fuels Association plan[s] to introduce 'hundreds of pages' into the peer review process, hoping to persuade EPA to abandon the indirect land-use calculation. They’re using a similar strategy in California, where the Air Resources Board ruled last month to count indirect land-use changes when determining if biofuels meet the emissions standard set by California’s low-carbon fuel standard." [6]
  • Corn Ethanol Industry Attacks California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, 8 March 2009 by GreenBiz.com: "The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released proposed regulations for a Low Carbon Fuel Standard last week to reduce transportation fuel emissions 10 percent by 2020. By requiring fuel providers to sell cleaner fuels, regulators expect about 20 percent of fuel used in the state will be supplanted with alternatives, such as biofuels, hydrogen and electricity."
    • The "new rules are already facing stiff resistance from the corn ethanol industry, which is urging CARB to reject its staff's recommendations and arguing the new rules unfairly penalize ethanol using unproven science."
    • "At issue is the CARB staff's recommendations to include greenhouse gas emissions from indirect land use change in the calculation of biofuel carbon intensity, even though similar impacts aren't used in the intensity calculations of other fuels."[7]

2008

  • More Bad News for Ethanol, by Energy Roundup (the Wall Street Journal's energy blog): "Another brick in the wall against ethanol. Academics tasked with plotting California’s transition to a low-carbon fuel have delivered more bad news: Ethanol appears to come with a higher greenhouse-gas price tag than previously thought — higher, indeed, than fossil fuel."
    • This article reported on a 12 January report by the University of California at Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center for the California Air Resources Board.
    • "'Simply said, ethanol production today using U.S. corn contributes to the conversion of grasslands and rainforest to agriculture, causing very large GHG emissions,” according to Berkeley professors Alex Farrell and Michael O’Hare.
    • “Even if only a small fraction of the emissions calculated in this crude way [through land use change] are added to estimates of direct emissions for corn ethanol, total emissions for corn ethanol are higher than for fossil fuels.”



California policies edit
Executive Order S-01-07 (establishes Low Carbon Fuel Standard)
Executive Order S-06-06: Targets for the Use and Production of Biomass Products
AB32: the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006
Climate change edit

Carbon/Carbon dioxide (CO2)/Carbon balance: Carbon emissions/Net (carbon) emissions | Carbon footprint | Carbon negative biofuels | Carbon neutrality
Carbon offsets | Carbon sequestration/Carbon storage | Life-cycle analysis (Models) | Low carbon | Low Carbon Fuel Standard
Land - Desertification | Erosion | Deforestation (REDD)
Policy: UNFCCC: Kyoto Protocol (Clean Development Mechanism), Copenhagen COP15 (Copenhagen Accord) | American Clean Energy and Security Act

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Land - Desertification | REDD
RSB Working Group on Environment
Bioenergy issues edit
Agriculture (Land use) | Climate change | Economics (Green economy/Green jobs)
Environment | Social (Poverty) | Trade

Controversies: Food versus fuel | Net energy | Carbon debt


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