Low Carbon Fuel Standard News: June 14, 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 ruling on the LCFS regulations. The California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District has issued a ruling in a lawsuit that was described in an earlier blog entry: POET LLC et al. vs. California Air Resources Board, which challenged the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard regulations for alleged failure to complete an environmental assessment before the regulations were finalized. In a ruling released June 3, the Court required the state’s Air Resources Board (ARB) to revisit the regulations it issued for the LCFS and for regulation of NOx emissions, and to reissue the regulations only after an environmental assessment has been completed. The court order allows the current LCFS regulations to remain in force until appropriate corrective action is completed.  An unrelated federal lawsuit against these regulations remains pending.

New pathways proposed under California LCFS. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted fourteen new LCFS  pathways on the LCFS web site. All of these pathways are for processes for the production of corn ethanol, proposed by different companies. Although finalization of these pathways depends on ARB staff review of the petitions submitted by the proposing companies, under the LCFS regulations the pathways are available for reporting and credit-generation as of the date of their website posting.

California Energy Future report on the potential for biofuels. The California Council on Science and Technology has released a final report in its “California’s Energy Future” project, a program with the goal of assessing how the state can meet its mandate of 80% greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2050 (relative to 1990 levels) under Assembly Bill 32, the law which created the LCFS and other state regulations. Using economic modeling of several different scenarios, the report found that substantial amounts of low-carbon biofuels will be required to meet California’s emission reduction goals, even when assuming optimistic increases in efficiency, electrification and the availability of other renewable energy sources. The report concluded that, although next-generation biofuels would be available to meet the GHG reduction goals, the availability of advanced drop-in fuels is critical for the ability to more significantly cut fossil fuel use in the longer-term.

Another report shows that the LCFS is helping meet greenhouse gas reduction goals. On June 12, ICF International released a report commissioned by the California Electric Transportation Coalition and other partners, assessing compliance with the LCFS and the prospects for its meeting it GHG reduction goals.  The report, which is the first of two phases assessing the impacts of the LCFS, found that so far, the blending of biofuels into both gasoline and diesel helped achieve compliance with the regulations. The report also found that the regulations were driving innovation and investment in fuels with reduced carbon intensities, and as a result, fuels such as cellulosic ethanol are coming to be  available for the California markets, in spite of the delays experienced in bringing commercial production of such fuels online.

These two reports come on the heels of two other reports which were described in an earlier blog entry. These were a status report on the LCFS that was published by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis, and a report from the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy at the University of California at Davis critiquing an unfavorable report on the LCFS that had been issued by the Boston Consulting Group in June 2012. 

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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