Low Carbon Fuel Standard News: May 8, 2013 (updated May 15, 2013)

Here’s an update on news items and other recent developments relating to the “Low Carbon Fuel Standard” (LCFS) programs enacted by California and Oregon and adopted or under consideration in other states, Canadian provinces and regions, to promote the increased use of low-carbon transportation fuels (i.e., fuels with more favorable greenhouse gas emissions than traditional gasoline or diesel).

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard

California state court challenge to LCFS regulations. While the challenge to the California LCFS in federal court remains pending, the state’s Air Resources Board (ARB) is also defending the regulations in state court. The California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District, which has been hearing an appeal in the case of POET LLC et al. vs. California Air Resources Board, issued a letter on February 26 to all parties in the case asking for supplemental information on several issues. This action has been interpreted as an indication that the appeals court will find that ARB violated the California Environmental Quality Act by adopting the LCFS before completing an environmental assessment, among other reasons. The State filed its brief in response to this request on April 2, as have the other parties to the suit. There have also been a number of Amicus briefs filed by other parties on both sides of the issue.

New pathways under California LCFS. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted four new LCFS pathways on its web site. Three of the newly posted pathways are Method 2 applications proposed by private parties and one is a staff-developed Method 1 pathway. The three Method 2 pathways are for Australian-tallow to renewable diesel, sugarcane molasses to ethanol, and mixed-feedstock to biodiesel; the staff-derived pathway is for compressed natural gas. According to the LCFS regulations, upon posting to the LCFS website, these pathways and their associated carbon intensity values may be used for reporting and credit generation purposes even before they are formally adopted and incorporated into the LCFS regulation. All are available on at the ARB website.

Status update of California LCFS published. The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis has published its second status report on the California LCFS. Among the report’s findings were that ethanol represented 78% of the LCFS credits generated in 2012, with 12% coming from natural gas and biogas, 9% from biodiesel, and 1% from electricity. Low carbon fuels were found to have displaced approximately 6.2% of the gasoline and diesel used for transportation in the state in 2012. The report also found that there were net credits of 1.285 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the system at the end of 2012, which the report says equals about half of the credits that would be needed to meet 2013 obligations.

UC Davis critique of 2012 oil industry-commissioned report on California LCFS. The Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy at the University of California at Davis has issued a report evaluating and critiquing a report issued by the Boston Consulting Group in June 2012 which had been funded by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). The 2012 report concluded that the LCFS would have significant negative effects on the California economy. The new UC Davis report faulted the 2012 report on several accounts, including a failure to assess impacts beyond the oil refining industry, the assumption that Brazilian cane ethanol would be the only significant source of low-carbon fuel, and the assumption that higher fuel prices would not cause Californians to drive fewer miles. The UC Davis report, which was funded by the WSPA along with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, can be downloaded here.

Oregon Low Carbon Fuel Standard 

Oregon Senate Committee holds hearings, approves bill to extend LCFS
. On March 18 the Oregon Senate Committee on Environmental and Natural Resources held a public hearing on S.B. 488, a bill which would repeal the December 31, 2015 sunset date of Oregon’s low carbon fuel standard program, officially known as the Oregon Clean Fuels Program. Testimony was heard from renewable fuel proponents as well as those who oppose the program and its extension. The hearing was carried over to continue on March 20. Written testimony from the hearings can be downloaded from the Oregon State Legislature website. On April 22, the Committee voted to send the bill to the Rules Committee with a “Do Pass” recommendation.

Previous Blog posts on Low Carbon Fuel Standards:

D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass also serves as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. or any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels


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