Category Archives: Low Carbon Fuel Standard

13 for 13: The Stories that Defined California Environmental Leadership

There is never a dull moment on the California environmental policy scene, and 2013 was particularly action-packed.  Everywhere you turn there seems to be a new innovative solution or a fresh example of a company, city, organization, or individual making a profound difference in putting the Golden State on the path to a clean energy future.  Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has the privilege of being in the middle of many of these groundbreaking developments, and in the past 12 months, California has taken a number of exciting steps forward.

What follows is our “13 for (20)13” recap of the most consequential stories in the California climate change and energy policy world, in our own words.  From celebrating the one-year anniversary of a successful carbon market to forging partnerships with other states and countries to marking continued innovations and opportunities in clean energy and fuels, it has been quite a year.  Here’s to an even better 2014.

 

1. California’s Carbon Market Caps off Successful First Year of Auctions:

The results of California's fifth carbon auction were released today, marking an important environmental milestone for the state – one year since the debut of its cap-and-trade system.

2. California’s LCFS Ruling is a Win for Consumers and Alternative Fuels Companies:

Last week, we saw a big win for California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) – a regulation to diversify the state’s fuel mix with lower carbon sources of energy.  After almost a year of deliberation, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals filed a decision in the case Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, et al. v. Corey, in favor of California.

3. LASER: Turning the climate threat into a story of opportunity for Los Angeles:

I’m an L.A. guy, so I like to think about things in epic story lines. And with today's launch of EDF and UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation new "LASER" maps (Los Angeles Solar & Efficiency Report), I think we’ve got a real blockbuster on our hands.

4. A Blueprint for Advancing California’s Strong Leadership on Global Climate Change:

A key reason California has become a global leader on climate change is its ability to successfully adopt the Global Warming Solutions Act, the state’s climate law that uses market-based tools to significantly reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emission levels. A group of tropical forest experts has now presented a blueprint for how California can secure significantly more reductions in global warming pollution than the law requires, while keeping pollution control costs down and helping stop the catastrophe of tropical deforestation.

5. Scoping Plan 2.0: Taking Action Today for a Clean Energy Future:

Today, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its draft 2013 Scoping Plan, the blueprint outlining how the State will address climate change over the next five years, reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and create a path for even deeper reductions beyond 2020.

6. Seeing Green: Emission Reducing Fuel Policies Help Lower Gas Prices:

Californians struggling with high gas prices should feel optimistic about the future.  A new memo [PDF] by economists from EDF and Chuck Mason, a prominent economist at the University of Wyoming, demonstrates that policies established to reduce emissions and help the state reach its climate change goals also help to arm consumers at the pump

7. At a Key Moment for Energy, California Should Seize Demand Response:

Traditionally, if an area’s population grows — or it loses a power plant — it needs more energy. But California and some other states can approach it differently and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Instead of asking, How can we add more energy?” the real question becomes “How can we reduce demand?”

8. Offset Market Alive and Well in California:

Congratulations to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as they announced plans to issue the first CARB Offset Credits or ARBOCs.  These 600,000 metric tons of offsets helps the state move closer towards our emissions reductions goals.  Compliance entities, such as utility and oil and gas companies, can use these offsets to meet up to 8% of their compliance obligation

9. Environment: California didn't do so badly this year:

Despite some particularly unexplainable losses if you care about protecting the environment, the California Legislature made progress in 2013. The range of bills on the governor's desk awaiting his signature confirms that California remains the stalwart energy and climate leader in the country.

10. Historic Agreement Demonstrates Broad Commitment to Build Clean Energy Economy:

With the stroke of a pen, North American efforts to combat climate change and promote clean energy reached a new level today.

11. Hopeful signs for U.S. and Chinese Cooperation on Climate Change:

The past week has offered a thrilling glimpse into the future for the millions of people around the U.S. and across the world who are yearning for real solutions to climate change.  On June 18, Shenzhen, an economically-vibrant city of 15 million on the South China Sea, launched the first of seven Chinese regional pilot carbon market systems slated to begin by the end of 2014.

12. Major California Refineries Logging Big Pollution Reductions Under AB 32:

It is well-documented that petroleum refineries release large amount of pollutants that are harmful to the environment and make people sick.  In California, these refineries are among the largest sources of carbon dioxide, accounting for 7 of the top 10 sources for climate pollution. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, refineries can also emit large amount of toxic compounds, including carcinogens and respiratory irritants.

13. Ruling gives bright green light for investment in pollution reduction projects in California:

California’s landmark clean energy bill AB 32 received a big boost today from the San Francisco California Superior Court in the case Citizen’s Climate Lobby et. al., v. California Air Resources Board.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Engaging Latinos, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Linkage, Offsets | 1 Response, comments now closed

From the Pacific Coast Climate Plan, a Path Forward for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard

While several stories have been written on this week’s historic climate pact signed by California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, little has been mentioned about the path its created for low carbon fuels in Western North America.  Such a clear statement on the direction for West Coast low carbon fuels development has never been made, so it certainly deserves a deeper dive.

In Part II of the pact: “Transition the West Coast to clean modes of transportation and reduce the large share of greenhouse gas emissions from this sector” the leaders agreed to “Adopt and maintain low-carbon fuel standards in each jurisdiction. Oregon and Washington will adopt low-carbon fuels standards, and California and British Columbia will maintain their existing standards.”

The relevance of this statement cannot be understated.

According to the US Energy Information Agency, the 3 western states burn a combined 23.7 billion gallons of gas and diesel every year, emitting just over 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.  British Columbia, for its part, releases about 15.5 million tons from burning gas and diesel in cars and trucks every year.

Furthermore, based on recent projections of alternative fuel industry growth from the California energy commission, the US Energy Information Agency, and consulting firms like Navigant, stringent Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS) are achievable.

For example, according to recent cutting-edge research on electric vehicle (EV) sales, California and Washington will likely lead the nation in EV sales by the year 2022 with about 813,000 and 105,000 EV’s sold respectively.  Additionally, the state of Oregon is expected to account for over 5% of all EV sales in 2022.  With policies like the LCFS, these vehicles can capitalize on the huge amount of zero carbon power (hydroelectric, wind, etc.) produced throughout the pacific northwest on a yearly basis – yielding even greater economic investments while also significantly reducing pollution that causes climate change and public health impacts.

In addition to the EV example, a set of LCFS standards across the western region can build upon the large amount of low carbon biofuels that are being produced.   By way of example, according to the US EIA, at least 14 different biodiesel production facilities with a production capacity of 183 million gallons of fuel are already located in California, Oregon and Washington, with more to come.  Furthermore, as documented by the California Energy Commissions, at least a 3-fold increase in alternative fuels production is expected by 2020, enabling the achievement of goals for “petroleum displacement, in‐stage biofuel production, and LCFS compliance.”

These alternative fuel facilities and companies mean local jobs, economic growth and reduced imports – a much different picture than the current trend of buying massive amounts of foreign crude oil and sending billions of dollars abroad.

For years, members of the oil and traditional ethanol industries have fought to undermine the LCFS in the media, the courts and at the ballot box. These groups have spared no expense to build implementation road blocks and cast doubt over the standard, hiring consulting firms that deliver highly criticized sky-is-falling cost estimates, sponsoring industry groups aimed at casting doubt over implementation readiness, and suing California in state and federal court.  With this most recent announcement, those efforts were again proven futile.

Though time will tell how Oregon and Washington will implement the LCFS portion of the recent climate pact, for now, a green light means it’s go time for low carbon fuels across the region.

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate | Comments closed

New Report Confirms Major Progress in California's Alternative Fuels Market

After months of surveys, analysis and preparation, the California Energy Commission’s draft 2013 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) is out – and it shows that dramatic progress is underway in the state’s transportation fuels market.  Not only has the state made measured progress towards a more diversified fuel market through targeted investments, the growth of alternative fuels shows that policies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) are working and compliance is achievable.

Accounting for nearly 40 percent of total energy consumed in the state and 38 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, the transportation sector is almost universally recognized as an area where significant progress needs to be made.  As shown by the IEPR, California’s powerful response to this realization through policies like the LCFS, AB 118 investment program and AB 1493 Pavley clean vehicle standards, just to name a few, has led to significant strides in greening transportation and reducing fossil fuel use.  Notable milestones to date recognized in the IEPR include:

  • A marked increase in the use of alternative fuel sources.

A rise in the use of natural gas, biofuels, and electricity has enabled lower-carbon energy sources to rise from a barely detectable level a few years ago, to about 7 percent of total transportation fuel use today.  (Page 19)

  • Expanded funding for clean fuels and energy efficient technologies.

The Energy Commission has contributed more than $400 million across 233 projects related to alternative transportation fuels manufacturing, research and development and workforce training.  With matching private and other public sector contributions of nearly $740 million, state-led investments have resulted in a multiplicative effect (about $1.80 from private and additional public sector funding for each $1.00 invested by the Energy Commission) and significant progress towards the state’s energy and climate goals. (Page 176)

  • Substantial progress and growth in the California biodiesel industry.

The biodiesel industry has grown exponentially in the past few years, resulting in significant production of in-state volumes.  In addition, research currently underway could significantly reduce production costs – meaning even greater volumes in the near future. (Page 64) Growth and technological advancement in this sector are particularly important, given the disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas and toxic diesel particulates that come from traditional diesel trucks.

  • Dramatic improvement in vehicle efficiency.

California’s vehicle standards, which have been emulated by the federal government, have resulted in fleet wide improvements in passenger vehicle efficiency.  As a result, California is predicted to experience a 2 billion gallon decline in gasoline consumption from 14.6 billion gallons per year in 2012 to 12.7 billion gallons per year by 2022. At approximately $3 dollars per gallon of gasoline, that’s over $6 billion per year in savings for consumers. (Page 182)

  •  Expected exponential growth in electric vehicles (EV).

Through policies like the $2,500 California Vehicle Rebate Project and the Governor’s 1.5 million EV by 2025 goal, the growth of EV deployment in California is unprecedented.  As a result, the Energy Commission expects exponential growth in the development and use of electric passenger vehicles in the coming years.  (Page 193) Since electric vehicles offer a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline or diesel‐fueled vehicles, particularly if renewables are the electricity source, this will mean substantial carbon savings in the near future.

Notable in this study is that everything points to these trends continuing in the coming years.  As the report states, “existing government incentives and regulations combined with alternative fuel price advantages, expected economy of sale vehicle manufacturing, and technology advances could lead to at least a three-fold increase in alternative fuel growth by 2020.”  (Page 190)

Increasing diversification of the California fuel mix aligns with forecasts conducted by EDF earlier this year.  If these trends continue, the Energy Commission predicts that “California will achieve goals for petroleum displacement, in‐stage biofuel production, and LCFS compliance.”

Achieving full compliance of LCFS and other clean fuels policies is imperative for California to reach greenhouse gas reductions goals.  Though the state has made a tremendous amount of progress to date, it needs to continue to spur advanced technologies and adequately address challenges related to alternative fuel growth. The IEPR shows that California is on track to doing this and continued implementation of existing policies is key to lasting success.

 

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy | Comments closed

History Repeats Itself Again: CARE’s New Cost Analysis Paints a One-Sided Picture

Major polluters funding skewed analysis of the costs and benefits of environmental regulations is a long-standing tradition in regulatory circles. In a recent version of this phenomenon, CARE (Californians for Affordable and Reliable Energy), an industry funded front group aimed at attacking clean energy and clean fuel policies in California, hired Navigant Consulting to do just that.

Last week, EDF economists pulled back the curtain on the recently released CARE report and found more of the same scare tactics: one-sided costs estimates yielding unfounded results and cherry-picked outcomes.

Unsurprisingly, our economists found that the CARE study “focused exclusively on the costs of California’s complementary clean energy and clean fuels policies while avoiding comparative assessment of the benefits.”  Additionally, the study was found to “rely on sources that have not been peer reviewed, and misinterpret analyses and energy market trends.”

Due to the noted inaccuracies of the study, the memo makes the point that “policy makers should treat the Navigant study with extreme caution; it likely overstates costs while considering neither the benefits to be enjoyed nor the cost-minimizing aspects of policies carefully designed to deliver environmental benefits as efficiently and quickly as practicable.”

A CARE funded analysis that results in a one-sided finding shouldn’t come as a shock.  The group is funded by some of the largest polluters and fossil fuels producers in California – those that have the most obligations to change under the state’s comprehensive clean energy and climate change laws.  CARE members include the Western States Petroleum Association, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, as reported on its website.

As California transitions to cleaner, more diversified sources of energy, many businesses will be faced with the stark choice of participating in the modernization of our energy and transportation system or fighting against progress and innovation.  Whichever way those businesses trend, the recent CARE report prepared by Navigant shows that misinformation will continue to be a part of the portfolio approach used by polluters to undermine California’s progress.

For other analysis of industry reports that have overblown costs and underestimated benefits of California’s clean energy and clean fuels policies, read here, and here.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32 | Comments closed

California’s LCFS Ruling is a Win for Consumers and Alternative Fuels Companies

By Tim O'Connor and Larissa Koehler

Last week, we saw a big win for California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) – a regulation to diversify the state’s fuel mix with lower carbon sources of energy.  After almost a year of deliberation, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals filed a decision in the case Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, et al. v. Corey, in favor of California.

In its 79-page decision, the Court addressed two major constitutional issues: 1) whether the LCFS was invalid because it directly regulated wholly out-of-state ethanol producers (extraterritoriality); and 2) whether the LCFS was invalid because it impermissibly discriminated against out-of-state producers based solely on origin, thereby violating the Commerce Clause.  The court overturned a District Court ruling on both grounds, finding that the state can move forward with the LCFS unimpeded.  Of course, the ruling is only a temporary win for California, as additional legal process at the District court — and possibly U.S. Supreme Court — is forthcoming.

Although not required to do so, the Court of Appeals went to great lengths to recognize the importance of California’s leadership in developing and implementing environmental policy.  The Court said it did not wish to “block California from developing this innovative, nondiscriminatory regulation to impede global warming… [as] it will help ease California’s climate risks and inform other states as they attempt to confront similar challenges.”

These words of support for the LCFS and California’s leadership are supported by tremendous growth in alternative fuels industries like California biodiesel, and also by analysis that shows fuel diversification can yield long-term price reductions at the pump.  The 9th Circuit's decision which allows these trends to continue is not just a win for the state in a long legal battle, but also a win for California’s consumers and environment.

Also posted in Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Litigation | Comments closed

Seeing Green: Emission Reducing Fuel Policies Help Lower Gas Prices

By Tim O'Connor and Shira Silver

Californians struggling with high gas prices should feel optimistic about the future.  A new memo [PDF] by economists from EDF and Chuck Mason, a prominent economist at the University of Wyoming, demonstrates that policies established to reduce emissions and help the state reach its climate change goals also help to arm consumers at the pump.

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, cap and trade, and other complementary policies such as Governor Brown’s Zero Emission Vehicle program and national Renewable Portfolio Standards seek to integrate lower or zero-carbon fuels into the energy market in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

As our memo explains, in California these efforts also help to increase the market share for alternative, lower-carbon fuels. Between now and 2020, alternatives may grow to occupy between 15 and 24 percent of the market, creating new jobs and addressing the large market share that oil companies have in California.

Currently six oil companies control 94 percent of the fuels market in California. Through a set of mergers and other factors they have developed a strong lock on fuel in the state, and more specifically on consumers’ pocketbooks at the pump.

When alternative fuels enter the market, however, and establish themselves collectively as a ‘competitive fringe’ sector in the market, they could reach almost a quarter of the fuel market for cars and trucks. They have the potential to displace up to 3.7 billion gallons of gasoline a year.

Figure 1. Alternative fuels 2020 projections and market share

Alternative Fuel Type

Year 2020 Projected Volume

Volume of displaced gallons of gasoline in California in 2020 (per year)

% of fuel market share of cars and trucks in CA in 2020 (gasoline and diesel)

Natural Gas-cars

95 MM therms sold

76 million

.5%

Natural Gas-trucks

15-35% new heavy duty trucks

199 million -221 million

1.3-1.5%

Biofuel-ethanol

1.6 billion-2.4 billion gallons

1.6 billion-2.4 billion

10.9-16.4%

Biofuel- biodiesel

5% belend-15% blend into diesel

200 million-600 million

1.3-4%

Electricity and hydrogen passenger vehicles

500,000-1,000,000 vehicles on the road

160.5 million-321 million

1-2%

 

Total displaced gallons of gasoline:

2.3 billion-3.7 billion per year

Market share of alternative fuels:

15-24%

With increased consumer choice from options such as natural gas vehicles, biodiesel and electric cars – overall consumer choice goes up and prices go down.  This healthier market would result in fewer price spikes at the pump, and a more sustainable transportation system.

For the sake of our pocketbooks, we must continue to foster policies that help the environment, create jobs, spur new industries and reduce gas prices. Because in the end we could all use a little more green.

Also posted in Clean Energy, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32 | Comments closed

Fueling the Future: Why Biodiesel is a Clear Choice for California

The transportation sector accounts for 38% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, the highest from any sector. And, as California’s fuel needs continue to rise, it’s becoming increasingly important that we break our reliance on traditional gasoline and diesel.  California’s low carbon fuel standard is one policy to help us break the cycle by creating more incentive to diversify our fuel mix and produce environmentally friendly and economically viable alternatives. One such alternative, biodiesel, is becoming a clear part of the solution to achieving our clean fuel goals.  

I recently took a trip to Iowa sponsored by the National Biodiesel Foundation, that centered around biofuel production in that state. One big takeaway for me was that alternative fuels are being embraced by a wide variety of economic sectors.  Additionally, there is a firm commitment by producers to ensure that biofuels are being produced from sustainable feedstock and production is conducted in a way that minimizes environmental harm and maximizes energy efficiency.

A biofuel that is seeing a surge in popularity in California is biodiesel – and for good reason. Like other biofuels, biodiesel greatly reduces harmful emissions into the air, but because it uses a variety of feedstocks, many of which are byproducts (think recycled cooking oil or left over soybean oil from another process) of other industries, the energy used to produce it is much lower.  In fact, the ratio of energy output to input for biodiesel is the highest of any transportation fuel. Finally, biodiesel can be used in any vehicle that runs on diesel, without modifications.

Leading the charge in California are six companies profiled in an EDF case study released today.  Biodico, North Star Biofuels, Yokayo Biofuels, Crimson Renewable Energy, Imperial Western Products, and Propel Fuels are all shining examples of businesses that have used the demand for alternative fuels created by California’s low carbon fuel standard to produce sustainable biodiesel.  Not only are these companies making biodiesel more readily accessible, they are supporting job growth as they expand production, enabling necessary reductions of harmful pollutants, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The founder of one California biodiesel company I visited said, “Biodiesel is creating real energy and real jobs for an economy that really needs it.”

In short, a stable and thriving biodiesel industry not only provides ample environmental advantages to merit further investment, but with its contribution of nearly $5 billion to the U.S. GDP, it’s also proving it can help build a stronger economy, making biodiesel a win-win solution for California. And most importantly, its success helps create pathways for other alternative fuels to follow, leading to the diverse mix of fuels that California needs to meet our clean fuel goals.

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy, Jobs | Comments closed

AB 32’s Scoping Plan is a Tale of Two Energy Futures

For a window into two vastly different visions of our state’s future, take a look at the comments filed last week as part of the AB 32 Scoping Plan update process. The 2008 Scoping Plan lays out the approach that California will take to achieve its goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and this is the first 5 year update.

EDF’s comments reflect what most Californians have already asked for – a laser focus on expanding emission reductions and providing ample clean energy opportunities for businesses throughout the state.

This includes:

  • Increasing emission reductions from vehicles, goods movement and the agriculture sector;
  • Developing diversified low-carbon fuels that yield cost reductions;
  • Integrating clean energy and energy efficiency through programs like “time-of-use” pricing and On-Bill Repayment;
  • And, extending the cap-and-trade program and low carbon fuel standard beyond 2020;

All of the opportunities outlined by EDF aim to fulfill the Scoping Plan’s mission: achieving the maximum technologically feasible reductions in greenhouse gas pollution in a cost-effective way.

A recent report by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) shows that refineries and other businesses are investing in the future by taking advantage of energy efficiency and savings opportunities under AB 32 – at a rate that has increased since the adoption of the 2008 Scoping Plan. A price signal for cap and trade beyond 2020 would reduce uncertainty, create a robust and stable market, and is key if California wants to continue driving these energy and money saving opportunities.

Comments filed by the California Chamber of Commerce (Cal Chamber) tell a different story.

Rather than encourage long term planning and a robust low-carbon economy, they've joined in lockstep with organizations like the Western States Petroleum Association (a representative of large oil including Exxon and Chevron) to try and hinder the state’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas pollution. Just as their frivolous lawsuit shows they would rather expend resources on litigation rather than innovation, they used the entirety of their comments to discourage CARB from using the Scoping Plan update as a tool to drive the state forward towards a clean-energy future.

Although they admit “the AB 32 mandate does not vanish in 2020,” they’re short on ideas that reduce greenhouse gas pollution in the state at the lowest possible cost.

They also fail to recognize that under the current cap-and-trade program, businesses have the tools and flexibility to reduce emissions through cost-effective means, and ignore the over 350,000 jobs created from California’s green economy.

A major part of the Cal Chamber’s argument is that California is going it alone, creating an unfair playing field for businesses in the state. They conveniently forget that Quebec will link with California’s cap-and-trade program in January 2014, and that there are complementary programs nationally and globally: RGGI has proposed severely lowering its emissions cap, and even China – the world’s biggest polluter – has started pilot emissions trading programs in an effort to potentially move towards a nationwide carbon cap in 2016.

While ideas like extending the market signal and expanding programs that help integrate clean energy and energy efficiency point us towards a bright future of innovation under AB 32, oil companies continue to stand in the way of progress and resist moving toward a robust, low-carbon economy. With apologies to Charles Dickens, this is a tale of two (very different) visions for California’s clean energy future.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Jobs | Comments closed

Five in Five: How to Achieve AB 32’s Goals and Build a Healthier, More Prosperous California

The 5-year update to the 2008 AB 32 Scoping Plan is being met with great anticipation, since it will continue California's trajectory down a path toward a healthier environment and economy.

The Scoping Plan update from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will certainly lay out a vision for the years ahead, with its north star being a goal of reaching 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020.

The emission reduction opportunities in the Scoping Plan update are a blueprint and encompass improvements and coordinated efforts across all sectors of the California economy.

To maximize reductions, here are five concrete areas to consider, from the nine topics in which EDF submitted recommendations.

Ultimately, the Scoping Plan update should:

  • Make it clear that the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and cap and trade will extend beyond 2020.  Consumers need some certainty regarding California’s policy future upon which to base investment decisions. Clear incentives and a long-term regulatory structure will enable CARB to achieve the reductions it needs to meet 2020 and 2050 goals.  It is imperative that CARB create an expectation that both the LCFS and cap and trade will remain in effect post-2020 in order to implement long-term change.  This will mean that consumers are more likely to make choices with long-term impacts, like buying a more fuel efficient car or even an electric car.
  • Establish a plan for meeting the state-wide goal of a 75% recycling rate. Recycling 75% of the state’s waste will help to generate valuable greenhouse gas emissions and go a long way towards meeting the state’s goals.   Further composting can be encouraged by finding valuable uses for compost and creating markets that allow composters to sell their products. For example, EDF has conducted research on the benefits of applying compost to rangelands which can facilitate further GHG reductions. Other areas to consider include developing offsets for compostable materials and streamlining the permitting process for new composting and anaerobic facilities.
  • Implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions from freight transportation.  As the demand for goods and services increases, emissions are expected to rise in freight transportation by 74 percent.  Measures such as investing in lower carbon modes of transportation are critical but there are also innovative approaches that might not be as obvious.  For example, by working together, companies like Hershey's and Ferrero have saved impressive amounts of GHGs and money by combining shipments so that they maximize cargo capacity for every trip.  EDF has profiled companies that are already seeing the benefit of these  and other similarly innovative approaches and believes that California can see large-scale change if they’re implemented state-wide.
  • Use On-Bill Repayment (OBR) to lower financing and transactional cost of clean energy projects.  OBR solves the problem many consumers have of the high up-front cost of clean energy projects.  It allows participants to borrow from private investors and pay the loan back directly through their utility bill, often lowering the overall amount of the bill despite the loan because of decreased energy demand. OBR accelerates clean energy investments and emission reductions without direct costs to taxpayers or ratepayers.  EDF estimates that OBR will avoid 200 million metric tons of CO2e over ten years (which translates to taking approximately 50,000 cars off the road), and OBR has the potential to create many jobs in the state as it spurs demand for clean energy projects.
  • Develop a comprehensive methane reduction plan.  As a short-term pollutant that has a high global warming potential, even small amounts of methane can have a tremendous negative impact.  This source of emissions is often overlooked because methane emissions can often occur indirectly as methane leaks from wells, pipelines, storage areas, or natural gas vehicles.  CARB can take charge of this challenge by creating an inventory of methane emissions that provides a comprehensive understanding of the scope and location of methane emissions sources, by implementing measures to reduce methane leakage, and by requiring energy efficient solutions to reduce the amount of natural gas used.

Integrating these five opportunities into the Scoping Plan update can, and will, go a long way towards mitigating the effects of climate change and creating a healthier environment and thriving economy for Californians that is built to last.

 

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Full steam ahead: California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

California’s 5th District Court of Appeals issued a tentative ruling yesterday in favor of California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) moving forward. The case is POET, LLC v. California Air Resources Board (CARB) and POET, a South Dakota ethanol producer, had alleged that CARB violated the California Environmental Quality Act in adopting the LCFS and should be barred from further implementation.

Recognizing the grave implications of discontinuing the LCFS, including derailing the state’s progress to cut greenhouse gas pollution and produce innovative alternative fuels, EDF took part in an amicus, or “friend of the court,” letter brief in support of CARB that was submitted to the Court. 

In their tentative ruling, and at oral arguments in Fresno on May 30th, the court stated that CARB would have to remedy certain procedural issues, but that the LCFS should be able to move forward. While Plaintiffs technically won, this ruling means they were thwarted in their underlying objective of slowing momentum towards a lower carbon and more sustainable transportation fuel system.

This case also showed that the LCFS continues to have wide and broadening support. Organizations as diverse as PG&E, the Sierra Club, EDF, and the National Biodiesel Board have all submitted amicus letters to the court affirming that the LCFS is an important tool for spurring innovation and improving human health and the environment.

As we have written about here, here and here, there is still another case pending in the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals that challenges the LCFS under the US Constitution.  But the future looks bright as once again; state environmental policies have successfully weathered a challenge by out-of-state challengers who would rather litigate than innovate.  Hopefully now that delays are off the table, POET and similar companies will become part of the solution by moving their profits and human talent away from litigation and towards technological advancements that scale up production of low-carbon fuels, cutting climate pollution, reducing smog, and growing their business.   

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