This commentary originally appeared on EDF's California Dream 2.0 blog.
By: Tim O'Connor and Shira Silver
Californians struggling with high gas prices should feel optimistic about the future. A new memo 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.