Spreading CARB’s Low Carbon Fuel Misery Nation Wide

Russ Steele

KQED has the story this morning: California Dreaming? Selling Congress on Low-Carbon Fuel.

Scientists from six research institutions—including UC Davis—are attending a bipartisan briefing on Capitol Hill this week to present the results of a new study touting the potential benefits of a national low-carbon standard.

LCFS — part of California’s AB 32 climate change legislation — calls for a 10% reduction in the “carbon intensity” (CI) of transportation fuels in California by 2020. The federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), by contrast, calls for a gradual increase of 35 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. It also establishes threshold production levels for various biofuel feedstocks, which is where it has run into trouble.

Corn-based ethanol, conceived as a temporary solution, continues to exceed the maximum production level set by the mandate. Meanwhile, production of cellulosic biofuels, derived from non-food and potentially more environmentally sustainable feedstocks such as grasses and wood chips, has fallen short each of the last five years. The EPA reduced the 2011 cellulosic biofuels mandate by a staggering 97%, from 250 million gallons to just 6.6 million.

You can read the rest of the article HERE. The article concludes:

Sperling says that the LCFS is intentionally designed to spur innovation by establishing regulatory targets that companies can bank on. But taking it national would require buy-in from corn farmers, advanced biofuels producers, electric utilities plus the automobile and oil industries, he adds. No easy task.

The initial thrust of the LCFS was based on the idea that wood chips, switch grass and other green waste could be turned into biofuels. The EPA has spend millions in tax dollar subsidies in attempts to produce those biofuels and have failed.  The biofuels called out in the LCFS mandate are not available.  So, now California has decided that the solution to make it a national standard in the hope that some one will come up with a solution?  Government attempting to pick a winner and tax payers are the loser.  Biofuels are only viable with huge government subsides, we get to pay twice once at the pump and again for the subsidies.



About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

10 Responses to Spreading CARB’s Low Carbon Fuel Misery Nation Wide

  1. Sean says:

    Don’t forget Russ, you get to pay for biofuels a third time at the grocery store.

    Honestly, I don’t really get what a “low carbon fuel standard” is. (I ought to know, I’m an organic chemist.) Is it biofuel like ethanol or bio-deisel? The only one of those that actually comes out ahead with respect to energy consumed in its manufacture is ethanol from sugar cane. I guess saving the Amazon rain forest is not as much of a big deal as it used to be. I know that people want to use wood and cellulosic waste to make ethanol or methanol but I this isn’t commercially viable because so far, pyrolysis is the most efficient method. It require a lot of heat, probably generates as much water as alcohol and the residual tars at the bottom of the pyrolysis chamber has got to be a real interesting mix. But hey, this is par for course for California, legislate solutions that don’t exist for a percieved problem that may only exist in the mind of computer modelers.

    Meanwhile, we all wait to see which California municipality will go bankrupt next.

  2. Sean says:

    Went and looked up the low carbon fuel standard. It’s all about where things came from including the electricity and heating used to run an ethanol fermenting and distillation plant. I think the push for a national standard could be that CARB ran afoul of the commerce clause that does allow one state to tell another state you how they make things. So their effort may have more to do with running afowl of federal law. Interestingly, there is a very simple solution that actually makes economic sense, natural gas powered vehicles. If only the pressure cylinders weren’t so expensive.

    • ggoodknight says:

      Sean, I think the dirt cheap natural gas will be goosing a boom in natural gas vehicles in certain applications, one being in town short range fleet vehicles that don’t need a large pressure vessel, and another being long haul trucks that can handle large pressure vessels and can plan routes along the major highways knowing where the NG can be supplied. In short, commercial vehicles that can expect favorable tax treatment.

  3. Arthur M. Day. says:

    The real solution is to use the new sources of oil in tar sands etc. and run them through the existing infrastructure to the existing gas and deisel powered transportation system. All the other stuff is the bogus output of greedy confirmed liars.

  4. Arthur M. Day. says:

    Rats, I mispelled diesel again.

  5. gjrebane says:

    Agree with Sean’s 1041am; the major cost to the consumer will be at the grocery store because they sell products that also get hit with the other two cost elements – expensive fuel and taxes.

  6. Apparently the misery is going world wide:

    A United Nations expert has condemned the growing use of crops to produce biofuels as a replacement for petrol as a crime against humanity. The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said he feared biofuels would bring more hunger. The growth in the production of biofuels has helped to push the price of some crops to record levels. It was, he said, a crime against humanity to divert arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel. –Grant Ferrett, BBC News, 27 October 2007

  7. The biofuels industry is at loggerheads with House Republicans, who are eyeing its funding for elimination in the farm bill. Biomass and biofuels groups warn that the loss of $800 million in guaranteed federal support would stall progress in developing the fuel source and cause job losses in rural communities that can least afford it. House Republicans say the plans to choke off funding for biofuels and biomass projects reflect the basic fiscal reality that cuts have to come from somewhere. Proponents for biofuels and biomass have faced another unusual roadblock — a coalition of fiscal conservatives and environmentalists who have rallied to stop the funding. Michal Rosenoer, an advocate with Friends of the Earth, said biofuels such as corn-based ethanol have been linked to rising food prices, and argued there’s no guarantee that a shift to more advanced cellulosic-based sources would be better for the environment. –Zack Colman, The Hill, 11 July 2012

  8. Sean says:

    Jo Nova posted on pollution from alcohol from sugar cane production in Brazil. http://joannenova.com.au/2012/07/sugar-cane-ethanol-biofuel-produces-10-times-the-pollution-of-gasoline-and-diesel/ Turns out its 5x greater for real pollution like soot, SOx, NOx and the like although pretty good on the imagined pollution CO2. I guess health problems in the indigenous people of the Amazon is just not as important as Californians. How much of CA’s pollution is exported to places with few environmental controls by CA’s stringent regulations?

  9. Arthur M. Day. says:

    A friend of mine back in my So. CA days (pre 1992) was involved in an investigation of straight ethanol powered cars. They bought a new Chevrolet, obtained the appropriate parts manual from Brazil and found that everything the fuel touched from gas cap to carburetor had a different part number from US cars. The stuff is very chemically different from gasoline.
    He also said that the Brazilians had been careless with their waste handling and most of the ground water tasted like bad booze.

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