Despite stringent arguments by the ethanol industry, California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) yesterday approved a Low Carbon Fuel Standard that could jeopardize continued development of the advanced biofuels it is intended to promote.
According to a press release from the board, “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 and public health – it reduces air pollution, creates new jobs and continues California’s leadership in the fight against global warming.”
According to ARB analyses, to produce the more than 1.5 billion gallons of biofuels needed, over 25 new biofuel facilities will have to be built and will create more than 3,000 new jobs, mostly in the state’s rural areas. Production of fuels within the state will also keep consumer dollars local by reducing the need to make fuel purchases from beyond its borders.
However, the biofuels industry believes the indirect land use modeling in the standard will do just the opposite. Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Executive Vice President Brent Erickson said, “Unfortunately, the rule adopted today – in particular the inclusion of indirect land use change measurements and methodology – may discourage investment in continued research and development of the same low carbon biofuels that are needed by California to meet its goals.”
California does intend to provide resources for research and development by providing “approximately $120 million dollars per year over seven years to deploy the cleanest fuels and vehicles.” Regulators expect the new generation of fuels to come from the development of technology that uses algae, wood, agricultural waste such as straw, common invasive weeds such as switchgrass, and even from municipal solid waste.