CARB Considers Proposals on New Clean Fuels

February 28, 2011

The California Air Resources Board formally considered the first proposals from private companies for new ways to make low carbon transportation fuels under California’s program to reduce our dependence on petroleum and promote cleaner alternative fuels. The proposals included those from two manufacturers of Midwest ethanol -- the Archer Daniels Midland Company and POET – and ethanol made from Brazilian sugarcane.

Data related to the manufacture and production of the proposed fuels were presented by staff to ARB Executive Officer James Goldstene at the first public hearing held to consider fuel production techniques not currently assigned a carbon intensity score in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard regulation.

“California’s standards were designed to drive innovation and invite companies to devise new low-carbon approaches to making alternative fuels,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “The fact that private companies are now approaching us with new methods of producing ethanol is proof that California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard is working exactly as advertised. Fuel suppliers know that California has established a large and certain market for low-carbon fuels though 2020, and we expect to see many more proposals for even cleaner fuels in the coming years.”

The Air Resources Board approved the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in April, 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the dependency on foreign oil by encouraging a variety of fuels used for transportation, and boost the market for alternative-fuel vehicles.

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard requires that suppliers of transportation fuels meet an average declining standard of 'carbon intensity' that will provide a ten percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions for all fuels used in California by 2020. The carbon intensity of a fuel is determined by the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, processing and consumption of a fuel, referred to as the fuels’ ‘pathway.’

The hearing today was held to consider the carbon intensity numbers associated with a range of new approaches to producing fuels. These approaches focus on more efficient methods as well as the use of cleaner energy when producing transportation fuels.

In total, 28 new fuel production techniques were considered at today’s hearing, including two proposed carbon intensity numbers for biodiesel derived from used cooking fuels. Collectively, the proposed changes provide additional options for meeting the carbon intensity reductions called for under the program.

The modifications to the staff proposal as discussed at the hearing will appear shortly in the form of amendments to the original Low Carbon Fuel Standard regulation that will allow for at least 15 days of public comment before final approval.

The Board expects California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard to reduce the use of petroleum and result in total reductions of 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, roughly 10 percent of the total greenhouse gas reductions required under AB 32, California’s overall climate change legislation.