Pasadena Environmental Group Behind Drive to Extend California's Low Carbon Fuel Standards

Published : Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | 5:13 AM

Pasadena-based Calstart, a member-supported nonprofit founded in 1992 to “jumpstart” the clean transportation industry in California, is leading over 150 businesses and industry groups in a campaign to continue to support the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (Low Carbon Fuel Standard), which requires the oil industry to gradually reduce the carbon-intensity of gasoline and diesel by 10 percent by 2020.

Through Calstart’s initiative, a total of 155 vehicle fleet operators, vehicle manufacturers, fuel producers, and industry groups wrote Governor Gerry Brown, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to attempt to convince them that Low Carbon Fuel Standard will remain “a critical policy tool to drive California’s transition to clean, low-carbon fuel and vehicle technologies in the future.”

The letter was sent last week as California lawmakers began to consider options to extend the state’s landmark climate change laws to 2030 and beyond. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is scheduled to meet in June and decide on an extension of Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

Calstart policy director Ryan Schuchard said the letter was also sent to members of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) which enforces the reduction of greenhouse gases..

In a press release May 11, Calstart said the letter demonstrates the depth and breadth of business support for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which it said creates jobs and rewards innovation while slashing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

Calstart said in just five years – from 2011 to 2016 – the Low Carbon Fuel Standard has helped inspire a 57 percent increase in the use of clean fuels in California. More than 300 companies in the clean transportation technology industry now employ more than 25,000 workers in California, Calstart showed in a 2016 report.

“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is spurring the growth of a cleaner fuels industry and creating new jobs in California,” said John Boesel, Calstart president and CEO. “We have been seeing a steady expansion of the low carbon fuels industry in California. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is working and should be continued and strengthened.”

The Calstart campaign comes at a time when the Trump administration is planning to cut funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and eliminate the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) which allows grants to companies seeking to swap out old diesel engines for newer, cleaner-burning models.

California has received the largest share of DERA’s grant money awarded between 2008 and 2015, according to data from the Diesel Technology Forum in Washington, D.C.

In the letter last week, the signatories lauded the Low Carbon Fuel Standard because “it provides the incentives needed to invest in new clean vehicle and fuel technologies today in order to bring down the costs for all Californians in the future.”

Because of Low Carbon Fuel Standard, over 20 low-carbon fuel plants have sprouted across the state, with additional facilities being planned. Investments in clean fuel production have reached over $1.6 billion since 2011, the letter said.

“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is needed to ensure that California fulfills its statutorily-mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” the letter said. “But as our experiences show, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard is foremost an economic development engine. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard promotes competition by rewarding all technologies that deliver low-carbon energy for transportation, and the policy is creating innovation for California across a range of industries, including biodiesel, biomethane, dimethyl ether, ethanol, hydrogen, next generation biofuels, renewable natural gas, and vehicle electrification.”

The signatories also noted that the Low Carbon Fuel Standard has been a vital tool for bringing clean, low carbon transportation to the state’s disadvantaged communities and has improved the air quality in areas like the San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast Air Basin, two regions that suffer from the nation’s worst air quality.

The policy has already helped California avert 26 million tons of carbon pollution and $2 billion in avoided public health impacts, they said.

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