Scientists Question California Climate Plan

Cindy Zimmerman

Over 100 of the nation’s top scientists are questioning the approach taken by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) which singles out biofuels for “indirect effects,” claiming that petroleum products result in lower carbon emissions.

CA ARBScientists affiliated with research labs such as the National Academy of Sciences, UC-Berkeley, Sandia National Labs, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and MIT sent a letter to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger offering their “comments on the critical issue of how to address the issue of indirect, market-mediated effects.”

Under the CARB Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) proposal, all fuels are assigned a “carbon score” to reward the least carbon intensive fuels. But only biofuels are being singled out for so-called “indirect effects,” which thereby gives petroleum products a better carbon score and a competitive advantage.

The scientists make two major compelling points regarding the indirect land use issue:
1. The science is far too limited and uncertain for regulatory enforcement
2. Indirect effects are often misunderstood and should not be enforced selectively

The scientists warn Gov. Schwarzenegger that the state’s proposal “creates an asymmetry or bias in a regulation designed to create a level playing field. It violates the fundamental presumption that all fuels in a performance-based standard should be judged the same way … Enforcing different compliance metrics against different fuels is the equivalent of picking winners and losers, which is in direct conflict with the ambition of the LCFS.”

Read the letter here.

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