California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Criticized

Cindy Zimmerman

The California State Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing heard testimony Monday from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) criticizing the proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

RFA Vice President of Research Geoff Cooper testified on behalf of the ethanol industry that under the standard proposed by the state Air Resources Board (ARB) “biofuels are penalized for a highly uncertain and unproven market-mediated effect known as indirect land use change, while petroleum and other fuel types are assumed not to cause any indirect or market-mediated impacts.”

RFARFA’s testimony reflects the views of 111 scientists, researchers, and academics from California and around the country who wrote Governor Schwarzenegger recently stating, “Leaving aside the issue of whether these [indirect] effects can be predicted with precision or accuracy, or whether such a penalty is appropriate for the LCFS, it is clear that indirect effects should not be enforced against only one fuel pathway.”

In addition, RFA is concerned that the proposed standard “has the potential to undermine the development of next generation biofuels, like cellulosic ethanol, because of the arbitrary nature in which the carbon accounting modeling is applied to biofuels and ethanol specifically.” Cooper testified that “artificially limiting the use of first generation biofuels may inadvertently “blow up the bridge” to future renewable fuels.”

Cooper suggested that the ARB change the proposal by improving the modeling used and including more current data for agricultural yields and the impact of distillers grains, the feed co-product of ethanol production, on reducing the need for additional crop acres. He also suggested that ARB initiate a comprehensive evaluation of the indirect impacts of other fuels under consideration, including gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and others to ensure an accurate performance-based regulation and organize a multi-disciplined group of disinterested economists, climate experts and other scientists to evaluate the accuracy of ARB’s work.

Environment, Ethanol, RFA