Carbon Intensity: California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard Goes Straight For The Biofuel Market

If a state can prove tougher than the federal government, then they get to make their own rules. At least that’s the idea in regard to carbon emissions laws as of late, albeit oversimplified. Yesterday California legislators have proven their eco-muscles are bigger (with the help of the governor, of course). The California Resources Board passed its Low Carbon Fuel Standard measure after being denied the waiver to pass under the Bush administration. The plan is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California by ten percent by 2020.

It’s a first, with many states expected to follow suit. The measure directly focuses on fuel alternatives as the solution in reducing carbon emissions—not just the cars on the road. Those companies involved in providing and refining fuel must now perform at a standard of declining 'carbon intensity'. But the measure’s regulation on indirect land use changes (iLUC) directly calls to question current biofuel production, such as biodiesel and ethanol, and its environmental effects. Scientists argue there is no way to measure the effects biofuel has on the land this early on. California, however, calls science slow.

Aside from the important environmental standards involved, the measure that passed focuses mostly our state’s presence in the future fuel market. "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.” But it will help the environment too.

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